FinTech News

Anthony Thomson Chairman 86 400
Anthony Thomson – 86 400

“In 2012 there was another seismic shift in the data I had spent 30 years reviewing. Going digital had truly arrived. People wanted to be completely mobile. This led to the launch of Atom Bank in the UK.”

anthony thomson, chairman 86 400

Anthony Thompson is co-founder and chairman of 86 400, Australia’s first smart bank. His impressive resume includes founder and chairman of Atom Bank the UK’s first mobile bank and, Metro bank in the UK, Anthony is one of the world’s leading pioneers in digital banking.

Could you tell us a little bit more about 86 400?

86400 is Australia’s first smart bank built with open banking in mind. The simple premise is the ability for the consumer to pull all of their bank accounts, credit cards, and payment services into one easy app. This allows customers to take full control of their money using data analysis.

What are your thoughts about the future of banking in the era of open banking?

There are a few interesting elements to this. Firstly the pace of development and rhythm at which banks will have to operate. We are lucky enough to have an incredibly strong team of people at 86 400. There is a mix of approximately half engineers and technical people and half traditional bankers. You need that mix of people to gain momentum in a digital bank, which by nature requires a fast rate of technology deployment.

Secondly, the use of an agile framework is essential, especially in a digital-only bank. Everything that underpins open banking should be about the consumer. How do you give the customer a better product/service/experience? The era of open banking should allow us to do that.

Our experience in the UK tells us the big banks think differently about open banking. Banks feel they have nothing to gain and everything to lose, which has resulted in them dragging their heels. The introduction of open banking to its fullest extent in the UK has been hampered by this. We are seeing a similar trend here in Australia. When open banking is fully integrated into Australia, I think it will be good for the consumer. The banks who choose to put the consumer first by using the technology available that underpins open banking should be in a great position.

 

86400 is a fully licensed bank with mortgage and lending products in your first year. How you have managed to achieve so much in your first 12 months?

We have just over 100 staff in Australia. When we show people around our CBD offices they are impressed that we have a fully functioning multi-product bank operating out of one floor. When COVID-19 hit, we were able to operate the entire bank seamlessly, without a single person working in the office using modern technology. Running a bank remotely three or four years ago would not have been possible.

Cuscal as our founding shareholder for 86400 has put us in an incredibly fortunate position. For those not aware, Cuscal is the largest independent provider of payment services here in Australia. Cuscal has provided us with the capital and resources, which enabled us to get off to a tremendous start. From this, we have been able to assemble a great team and focus on growing the bank without the monumental task of raising capital.

From my own experience of capital raising, which has been about a billion dollars over the last 11 years, it can be a real distraction to the management team. Having the ability to focus purely on the bank, gave us a great advantage in the Australian market.

Many traditional bankers question the neo bank model especially profitability. What are your thoughts?

I passionately believe that profit is a by-product of delivering what the customer wants. By providing a better service and experience for your customers, and managing your business well, you should be profitable.

Profit is very important to businesses. It is essential to pay the people who provide the risk capital. This in turn provides the resources, meaning growth. You can then pay the staff who work in your business. The end goal should always be doing something well for the customer.

The challenge of starting a new bank is that it is capital consumptive. Banks traditionally require lots of capital. Banks seem to more frequently go back to their shareholders with the ‘we’re doing well, we’re growing fast, give us some more money’, something which is different in other businesses. The capital intensive nature of banks has tended to make them a little more difficult than some of the non or lesser regulated FinTech.

Could you share with us your history and how you ended up running not just one, but multiple banks during your career?

My background is in marketing, not banking. Marketing is about looking at data, seeing an opportunity, and seizing that opportunity to develop a business. In 2007 when I first had the idea for Metro Bank I spent a long time carrying out research. The data all pointed to one thing, customers wanted value. The measure of this for High Street banks equated to one thing, Price. When you start digging into the consumers’ response to “value” it meant more than just price. Customers valued service, convenience, trust, and transparency as well as price.

I saw a real opportunity to create a bank focused on all these elements. In 2012 there was another seismic shift in the data I had spent 30 years reviewing. Going digital had truly arrived. People wanted to be completely mobile. This led to the launch of Atom Bank in the UK.

My foray into the Australian market was championed by my wife a few years ago who liked the idea of a move to Australia. Luckily, she intended to come with me, not just pack me off!

I started researching the market and visited from the UK 16 times within 18 months. There was a great opportunity to create a digital bank here in Australia, with all of it’s similarities to the UK. When I met with the Managing Director of Cuscal, he had a very clear vision of what they wanted to achieve. Cuscal had never built a bank and I had been around the block a couple of times before with Metro and Atom. The idea of us working together was a great marriage of our respective skills, experience, and expertise.

What can traditional banks do to regain the trust of customers?

My former partner in Metro bank was once asked a similar question at a conference. He is a well-known face and is recognisable for carrying his little Yorkshire Terrier with him everywhere. The question posed was:

“If we kidnap your dog, and don’t give him back until you restore the trust in ” BIG BANK” (they named a big American bank). What would you do?

He paused for a moment and said “I guess my dog is dead”.

Restoring trust is an incredibly difficult challenge. I co-authored a book on the marketing of money last year, called No Small Change, which looked at the marketing of financial services in general, banks in particular. There was one conundrum we heavily researched which didn’t make sense.


Consumer groups regularly say customers don’t trust the big banks. On the flip side, big banks counter this argument with lots of their research saying customers do trust us. How can this be? One of them has to be wrong.

When we dug deeper (and we enlisted the help of a UCL professor) we found out they were both right. There are two types of trust. Cognitive and Associative. They are broken down as follow:


‘Do I trust my big bank to have the salary that I paid into my account on Thursday still in my account on Monday?’ YES
‘Do I trust my big bank to pay my mortgage by direct debit on the 23rd of the month?’
YES.

These are both cognitive trust, which is based on their competence.

On the other side of the trust scale, we have;


‘Do I trust my big bank, to put my interests first? The resounding answer to this question is ‘No, I bloody don’t’. This is associative trust.

Whilst we trust the competency of big banks we don’t feel they have the best interests of the customer first. The real opportunity for new banks, like 86 400, is for us to demonstrate to our customers that we genuinely do put them first.

Hard to believe that Newcastle upon Tyne is like the projects in LA but we did share a lot of similarities.

Anthony Thomson 86 400

Why did you chose 86 400 as a name for the bank?

86 400 is actually the number of seconds in a day. We feel it’s a great because we are all obsessed with helping Australians feel in control of their money, every second of every minute of every day.

When an idea for a business comes to mind I often apply an old marketing trick. Give your business human traits and qualities. I carried out this exercise when I had the idea for Atom Bank. What would the personality of our business look like? I sat at home in Somerset mulling over this question with a glass of wine.

I thought if Atom Bank were a person it would be someone who lives their life digitally. Someone who understands social media, and gets the psyche of our target market ‘the millennial’. I suddenly had this image of Will.I.am. I googled his name and suddenly I had a whole lot of info on him. Whilst his music is the thing he is most known for, he also has a huge AI business, employing hundreds of people across three continents. I was amazed to find out he is a tech entrepreneur.

To cut the story short, I contacted him, he liked the idea. He joined Atom as an advisor to the board and became a shareholder. It turns out we came from similar backgrounds. Hard to believe that Newcastle upon Tyne is like the projects in LA but we did share a lot of similarities. We remain friends, even though I am no longer involved in Atom Bank.

What are your thoughts on Australia as a FinTech hub?

I see several really exciting hubs around the world. Singapore, Shenzhen, California, New York, London, and incredibly the northeast of England. They all have great FinTech hubs. I believe it is more mindset, not geography that is the driving force. When you get young, hard-working, bright, people who are determined to make a success of ideas. Together they become greater than the sum of the parts, over time I believe the work being done on these hubs will be world-changing.

Finally, any plans to go back to the UK, or is Australia home for you?

Well, I think it is a question whether the Australian government would keep me! Certainly, my wife and I love living here, but there are lots of exciting places on the planet.

Fintech Community Talent Promotion
Fintech Community – Talent Promotion

Every week Tier One People will promote someone in our network.

For those who are part of our Fintech community we are launching an initiative to promote selected people to our network of Fintech decision makers.

We will be choosing a person we know, who we highly rate and respect.

Given our focus on reputation, each person we pick will be vouched for by at least two other people in our network

And every person selected must be out of work and actively on the job market.

We aren’t expecting any fees or favours.

We just want to see great people get hired.

If you wish to be featured here’s what you need to do.

  1. Fill out this form

2. Inform your referees we will be in touch asking them to vouch for you.

3. We will then let you know if you will be featured.

Gareth Gumbley Frollo
Gareth Gumbley – Frollo

“I just sat there one day back in 2015, with a piece of paper at the dining room table and thought there has to be a better way of doing this. There has to be a more fun way of getting people engaged in finances. From this Frollo was born”

Gareth Gumbley, CEO of Frollo is behind the quest to help Australians feel good about money. Using the power of technology and community, Frollo enables clients to build their own unique customer journeys and value propositions.

As the first FinTech in Australia to become an accredited data recipient in open banking, Follo is leading the way towards a more transparent financial sector for all Australians.

Could you share more about what Frollo do? 

Frollo is a purpose driven FinTech on a quest to help people feel good about money. We’ve built a really simple to implement technology to help businesses, their customers and employees to turn around their finances. We do all this using their own bank data. 

Frollo as a business, is essentially two parts. We have a consumer app, with over 110,000 consumers, where we test and learn with our technology. In addition we work with Neo banks, traditional banks, fintechs, lenders, or employers to leverage our b2b SaaS platform and open banking solutions. 

This is where they use white label apps or choose to integrate our API’s into their existing mobile apps/lending processes. We help them fast track new solutions to improve people’s financial well being or innovate banking experiences.

Could you tell us about your recent achievements in CDR? 

Frollo were the first Australian FinTech to become accredited under the CDR at the unrestricted level. In layman’s terms, this means we can use bank, utility and telco data. On Saturday 27th June 2020 at 5.35pm we officially provided a consumer provided consent which allowed us to collect bank data from one of the big four banks. It felt like being the first FinTech on the moon!

Everybody has been sitting on the sidelines waiting with bated breath for CDR to really get rolling and it was amazing to see it in action. It’s pretty exciting for the team to finally get there. There has been a tremendous effort with ACCC and Data 61 to navigate rules and standards to get us to where we are today, it’s been a phenomenal journey.

It is pretty critical in the process to make sure we uphold to protect consumer data above all else. A lot of time and energy has gone into making sure that the app is adhering to ACCC standards. This includes the screens and the language we use to get consent, making sure the consumer is aware of what they are agreeing to. Once the data is inside our environment we needed to make sure it was safe. From here we can then gain insights and give the consumer a better picture of their finances. The new app is now live and consumers will see the immediate benefit. 

“I think I’ve probably made all my mistakes along the way, as I’ve matured”

What do you see as the opportunities for Frollo as CDR goes live? 

We’ve been working in the space of helping consumers feel good about money for the last three years. Frollo has three key journeys we want to take our consumers on. Firstly, helping people identify ways they can save their money. The second is to debt reduction, especially in today’s credit driven society. Lastly, purely a case of tracking our expenses so we can become more literate in managing our daily money. 

The beauty of CDR is being able to link product API data with consumer transaction data. We’re able to see how they’re using the financial products and whether it’s best suited for them, or whether there are better deals out there.

How did you get the idea for Frollo?

With 15 years working in payments and consumer finance, I’m an old dog in the land of FinTech. I became interested in understanding how consumers manage their finances, including moving money and making payments. I felt there was an opportunity to help people borrow money in a better way. Whilst lending people money to fix an unforeseen problem, like a broken down car, might seem like a solution in the short term, it is really just a quick fix. It doesn’t go to the heart of the problem. We need to engage people in their finances earlier. 

There was nothing there, like a Fitbit or Strava for finance to help people understand ways they could be in a better financial position. PSD2 was on the radar, open banking was a conversation, the whole world of digital payments was happening, but there was nothing that really filled the void. 

I just sat there one day back in 2015, with a piece of paper at the dining room table and thought there has to be a better way of doing this. There has to be a more fun way of getting people engaged in finances.  Frollo was born out of this.

Could you give me a snapshot of Frollo today, and what are the plans for next few years?

We’ve got just over 30 people in the business made up of developers, product management, sales and data scientists. Data is probably the biggest skill set explosion in our team. The business is consistently growing our revenues year on year for the last three years, over 300% revenue growth in the last couple of years. Frollo was initially self-funded. Since then we’ve completed three small, private funding rounds. 

Our focus for now is Australia, but we are constantly exploring partnership opportunities to open up new markets. Our current partnerships include Virgin Money and Volt Bank. We are noticing an increasing number of Neo lenders, Tier 2 banks and some FinTechs are starting to engage our services. I feel our success is partly down to bringing capital in from people we like and know.  We are focused on building a business that is sustainable for the long haul.

What is your approach to the culture you’re building at Frollo?

I was fortunate to have had the opportunity to run a number of other small businesses that accelerated and scaled really quickly. The benefit being I could decide what was important when I designed my blueprint for Frollo.

One of the key things was making sure the business had a really strong purpose. Being clear about what were we trying to achieve.  Authenticity in how we engage and interact with staff and our partners. So, everyone who meets Frollo believes we’re purpose driven, we care and we want to make a difference. 

Frollo as a business is very innovative and passionate, this plays a big part in helping attract talent. We were lucky to onboard high performing talent with energy who we already knew. They set the benchmark and in turn brought their friends and their friends brought their friends. We’ve really done pretty well at bringing together a nucleus of staff who helped build a solid culture. We’ve managed to maintain this as we’ve grown and navigated Covid.

We’ve been fortunate to hire some incredible software developers.  We’ve got 15 or 16 nationalities across our staff of thirty. Our willingness to onboard an app developer who worked on the number one app in Nepal, absolutely gives them the credibility to be working on an app in Australia. I guess the enthusiasm to bring talent in and bring good people in, has enabled us to build a pretty high performing team.

What are your tips to find other ways of bringing in good people when the market is constantly decrying “there is no talent”?

Be brave and have courage in both the people you’re hiring and yourself. We took a risk by taking people who had experience in other markets, but not in Australia. We looked for people in other disciplines or industries and see if they were able to apply their skills to our organisation. Our part was to provide the coaching, support, onboarding and nurturing. We gave them time to come up to speed, which is not something companies give these days.  Our patience paid off and we started to see the benefits our teams really flourished. 

‘The average Australian today probably spends $1,000 a year in the lazy tax”

Gareth Gumbley Frollo

What does the next 12 months look like for Frollo? 

Our focus is going to be helping other organisations develop use cases around CDR. We’ve purposely built our apps and our API’s to enable others to fast track on to CDR. You can apply to become an ADR today and then immediately outsource most of the technical and process capabilities and components to Frollo.

We can really accelerate the number of organisations that get accredited in ADR and are able to leverage CDR data. This is really where we want to see our focus over the next 12 months. 

How do you think the average consumer will benefit from CDR? 

We’re hoping our consumer app will enables us to prove out those use cases to show ACCC, Government and industry there are ways and opportunities to help consumers. They may never know they’re using CDR or open banking, but what they do know is there is a better way of looking after, moving their money and a better way to experience financial products. They’re just not aware they could be on better deals or products more suited to their lifestyle. There’s a tremendous opportunity to build financial literacy and well being. If we know where our money goes, how much we’ve got and that we’ve got enough to pay the bills it considerably eases our stress levels.

How quickly do you think we’ll see the interaction with CDR here is Australia?

I think we’ll continue to enjoy CDR and the benefits it brings. I think all of us are frustrated its not quite moving fast enough. The UK is a good example. They witnessed a tenfold increase in the number of API requests over the last 12 months. These things take time to build out, it’s incredibly complex but I think the next few months will be exciting. Then we’ll start to see innovations really come into the market as we go into 2021.

When Should A FinTech Hire A Banker
When Should A Fintech Hire A Banker?

“The Revolut Country CEO search took six months. The brief changed 4 times as the company grew from 700 to almost 2000 staff during this time. Customer numbers went from 4m to almost 10m. When a company is growing that fast in a highly regulated sector like Banking, it creates a lot of complexity, meaning hiring becomes complex.” 

dexter cousins – tier one people

Are You Startup Ready?

Often the “Fin” in Fintech would denote a heavy hitter from a bank being a winning hire, right?

In the fast paced environment of Fintech, we have noticed caution on the part of our clients in making such a decision.

The hesitation is bound in stereotypes. Banking is often viewed as a mired in red-tape, compliance (or lack of, in Australia), too many chiefs, too many meetings and nothing getting done. Huge amounts of resources and dollars are thrown at projects that never come to fruition. Whilst their Fintech competitors move with stealth and agility, innovating at much greater speed with minimal resources.

The role of an Executive Search Consultant is to challenge stereotypes and get clients to view each candidate on their merits. The view of not being a team player and rolling up your sleeves is often a misconception in banking, but there are plenty who refuse to conform to the stereotype of a banker. 

Tier One People is bolstering our position as the leading Australian Fintech Executive Search firm. Australia’s growing FinTech sector has seen a rise in the search for C-suite and leadership talent. Counting Revolut, TrueLayer, 10x, Klarna and Transferwise as some of the many companies seeking our assistance.

How bankers can take control of their job search.

A more proactive approach job seekers can take is to look at where your big banking skills can have an impact. Assessing whether a company is at start-up or scale up stage will also aid you in making a successful move to Fintech. Read this article on Fintech Career Advice to gain a better understanding at which stage of growth you are best suited to.

Before embarking on the search it is crucial to take a step back and ask yourself; 

“How would I cope moving from a structured and heavily supported environment to a one of a specialist generalist”

The best advice we can give candidates looking to join a Fintech. 

“Focus on impact. How many years you have worked somewhere doesn’t excite a founder, showing a founder how you can make/save the company millions of $$ does.”

Showcasing your skills in 2020 also requires more savvy than ever before. Looking good on paper doesn’t get cut through anymore. If you are in the market looking to join a Fintech you need to have a plan in place and a goal in sight. You need to utilise all of the tools available, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Podcasts. These are all channels where you get direct access to decision makers, people who can hire you.

You can showcase your skills and achievements, bringing them to life and not being blocked by gatekeepers and recruiters.

Do FinTech Need Banking Experience?

Dexter Cousins, the CEO and Founder of Tier One People, has interviewed more than 300 FinTech leaders on the subject of hiring. He firmly believes hirers should consider the lifecycle of a Fintech to assess where the best candidate fit is. 

It’s very difficult for anyone to move from a corporate job to an early stage startup. But with the rapid growth of tech companies, a startup can become an enterprise in 5 years. Examples include Stripe, Revolut and Australia’s Afterpay.

It’s a difficult process identifying the right time for a banker to join a Fintech. The right person can definitely make a significant contribution as the company scales. Often times the right hire is made but at the wrong time, which ultimately means the hire is wrong.

Find out just what skills you need in this exclusive interview with Eric Wilson, CEO of neo Bank Xinja.

We get inundated with calls on a daily basis from candidates seeking a move to the shiny new world of ‘FinTech’. However, opening your pitch with “hey, I’ve got 20 years experience in banking, I want to work in FinTech” might not be the best way to impress people. 

It’s also important to make the distinction between a Finance business and a Software business. Are bankers better suited to a NeoBank or a platform provider. Fintech covers a wide range of businesses and making this distinction can really increase your chances of securing a move.

Judo Bank, Xinja, 86 400 and Revolut in Australia have all hired highly experienced bankers early in their growth. Judo and Xinja are both founded by highly experienced bankers who were driven to change the industry.

FinTech’s are at the cutting edge of innovation with far fewer resources than any bank. The reality is no founder or investor gets excited by somebody with twenty years experience in banking, unless they can demonstrate previous success in a startup and they have skills currently not in the business which are mission critical to success. 

 

Dexter Cousins features alongside Aussie Fintech legend Joseph Healy of Judo Bank in this months FinTech Finance Magazine.

When Founders need help with hiring.

The recruitment process to join a Fintech can be almost as intense as the job itself. If you can’t handle the intensity of the interview process, it’s highly unlikely you will succeed in the job.

The thing to remember is that FinTech founders themselves may not have the breadth of experience in HR or Talent to make critical hiring decisions. Hiring for a startup is often a make or break decision. We’ve watched some companies flourish and others flounder because of it. 

For a founder looking to hire, specialist FinTech recruiters are more easily able to identify those candidates who are the ”right cultural fit.” Assessing if someone will relish the challenge of working in a FinTech environment is very difficult using traditional interview techniques. And a specialist recruiter can provide far greater access to Talent than an ad campaign and direct networks, especially in talent short markets. 

But to achieve these results a client needs to invite us ‘into the tent’.

The key to success is communication

Being attuned to the changing demands of the business is vital to ensure success when hiring. 

“The Revolut Country CEO search took six months. The brief changed 4 times as the company grew from 700 staff to almost 2000 during this time. Customer numbers went from 4m to almost 10m. When a company is growing that fast in a highly regulated sector like Fintech, it creates a lot of complexity. Hiring becomes even more complex.” commented Dexter Cousins.

There is a need for the modern executive search consultant to set realistic expectations with their clients. Being transparent and honest (even though clients may not want to hear what you have to say) is the only way to achieve lasting success. This approach is core to the values at Tier One People. The search for the “blue eyed unicorn” is never a realistic one and usually wastes significant time and business opportunities. 

Jonny Wilkinson – Equitise

“The ability to invest is also great for the economy. Crowdfunding allows companies who are innovative and small the ability to grow and create future employment. Equity crowdfunding helps underpin the early stage capital markets. We’re very passionate about being able to offer investing opportunities to everyone.”

jonny wilkinson – equitise

Jonny Wilkinson is co-founder of Equitise. Equitise is a crowdfunding platform which simplifies the investment marketplace. It removes traditional barriers to investing in sourcing capital by making the process quick, easy and safe. Enabling your average Aussie to invest in early stage startups like Xinja. Jonny shares his personal journey of launching the business and gives his views on the investment market. 

Tier One People’s Dexter Cousins chats to Jonny about his own journey with the business and the future for Equitise.

Can you tell us about Equitise?

We are an investment platform for unlisted companies to raise funds via crowdfunding. Essentially we make it possible for everyday investors to put a relatively small amount of money into supporting startup businesses. The idea for Equitise began in 2014 in a pub at a mates birthday. My co-founder Chris (Gilbert) were both chatting about wanting to get out of our corporate gig. We both had some knowledge of the potential changes taking place in crowd funding both regionally and globally and figured we’d go for it.  The next morning we weren’t sure what was going to happen. Nursing a sore head, scrolling through my newsfeed I was drawn to something which was to become the precursor to the H2 accelerator. 

Equitise helped Xinja equity fund raise. What was the experience like?

Xinja was the very first retail, equity crowdfunding deal done after the laws changed and the exact same day our licence was granted. The 11th January 2018 was the day we launched with Xinja. It went gangbusters, beyond our wildest expectations. I didn’t leave my desk other than go to the bathroom a couple times on that day. We ended up raising about $2.5 – $3 million for them.

Could you tell us a little bit more about some of the other businesses you work with?

We’ve been extremely lucky to work with some great businesses including Car Next Door, GoCatch and Endeavour Brewing, a boutique beer label. We’ve helped lots of companies raise money, not just once, but a second or third time. To date we’ve carried out 74 raises for 65 companies over the past few years. In total that equates to approximately $45 million.

What kind of response have you had from investors?

It’s been nothing short of amazing. When we set out on this mission we needed companies and investors to enable us to fulfill our wish to make investing more open and transparent to every investor.  Buying into a VC fund costs on average $250,000, which puts it beyond reach for the average investor. With Equitise, investors require, on average just $250, which provides opportunity for most people to build a portfolio. They can back some amazing, exciting businesses with the potential to grow tremendously and potentially provide great returns.

The ability to invest is also great for the economy. Crowdfunding allows companies who are innovative and small the ability to grow and create future employment. Equity crowdfunding helps underpin the early stage capital markets. We’re very passionate about being able to offer investing opportunities to everyone.

 

Have you got any theories as to why we’re seeing this huge rise in stock markets?

A number of factors are in play. Stock markets are trying to predict the future, and COVID-19 has thrown things into disarray lately. Previous downturns like the GFC were a top down structural issue, which slowly unwound and devalued a whole lot of assets. 

What we are seeing now is a supply/demand, bottom up driven outcome. The opportunity for the economy and indeed the world to switch back on and return to normal is much greater. 

There is more money in the world today than ever before. In recent years people are most likely reassessing their situation. 

We’re very lucky to have extremely mature superannuation industry in Australia, with a figure in the region of $2.6 trillion AUD. This is a huge amount of money to underpin the economy with. Nine and a half percent of the gross national income in Australia is deposited into superannuation funds each month. 

If there aren’t any new issuances on the ASX, most of the focus and allocation of a lot of these assets is towards Australian stocks. The asset prices will just get pushed up. Which means the ASX keeps on growing even if there isn’t commensurate, actual growth in the underlying companies on the ASX.

Do you think that the ease of investing and access to all of these opportunities is creating a paradigm shift?

Without a doubt it’s quicker and easier for people to take these opportunities now. Opening an account can all be achieved in a few minutes. The speed in which it can be achieved allows people to seize on opportunities. If you’re sitting on cash or you’re looking to rotate your asset allocation it’s a tremendous time to be alive. 

I recall a time back at Citibank, when we were trying to set up some Australian institutional clients it was an arduous process.  The steps and the forms needed to set up trading in the US was quite involved. Whereas these days individuals can do it in a matter of minutes and lots of the processes are automated.

“I’m never going to try and start another business where I need to get laws changed!”

jonny wilkinson equitise

Can you tell us more about the Equitise journey?

In 2014, H2 accelerator accepted Equitise into their accelator programme. Legislation was expected to change in a relatively short period of time, 6 to 12 months at most. Then we had a change of government and the time frame changed overnight, we had no end date in sight.

Having quit our jobs, borrowed money and building the investment platform, we didn’t know what to do. 

We had always planned that Equitise would be an Asia Pacific company eventually, starting in Australia, New Zealand then Asia. The order changed. We jumped on a plane to New Zealand and started cold calling people, sending emails and LinkedIn connections. 

Chris and I quickly followed up with meetings. Venture capitalists, angel investors, lawyers, accountants, basically anyone who we thought might be interested in investing. When we met with the regulator they were very encouraging. And after a brief board meeting (Chris and I were the only two board members at that time) we decided to launch in New Zealand first.

I got on a plane the next day and moved to New Zealand for 18 months. We got the business quickly set up and licenced.

In Australia the process to get the legislation changed to allow for equity crowdfunding, was pretty arduous. We had to lobby the government and the opposition and took trips to Canberra a few times. It took a lot of time and pushing from different angles. 

FinTech Australia has been an amazing platform for us to help get access and lobby the government. I was lucky enough to be put on a FinTech advisory panel to the government, which opened up another avenue for us. We had to work with ASIC making sure we put regulations in place to get licensed in Australia before we finally got the go ahead. I’m never going to try and start another business where I need to get laws changed!

How many people do you have in the business?

We now have ten people in the business split fairly equally across technology, marketing, deals and management working collaboratively within the business. Our marketing team also works with each of the companies we are raising money for, as well as doing the broader Equitise marketing. 

How does it feel making such a significant impact on the startup community? 

It’s amazing and we’re very proud of what we have achieved. It gets us out of bed every day. We get to speak to amazing people doing tremendous things. When we see the companies we help continue to grow, it’s very rewarding.

Private companies are the lifeblood of the economy, they drive growth and employment. 

The second company we ever raised money for in New Zealand works in a pretty niche space providing financial products to retirees.  They don’t think they would have been able to go on had we not helped them with their first raise. They now have more than $250 million funds under management and we’ve raised for them four or five times.

Have you got any exciting deals in the pipeline  you can mention at the stage?

We’ve got lots of exciting things coming up, which we’ve been holding off on due to COVID-19. This has allowed us to build an exciting new platform where we’ve built the technology from scratch. We have launched Bricklet, which is a fractionalized property play. We’ve got a bakery business producing authentic, certified organic, whole food. 

Humaniti is  a personal finance offering where you can actually earn money.  There’s a lot of exciting things coming through in the short term and we’re busy stacking the pipe with some exciting stuff coming for the second half of the year. 

Tim Cameron – Transferwise

We hire people who have shown a true affinity for their customers in previous roles. Talking about the profit you’ve delivered without sharing the customer problems you’ve solved is not really the way to get your foot in the door.

Tim Cameron – Transferwise

Tim Cameron is Australia New Zealand Country Manager for Transferwise. Transferwise launched in 2011 with the vision of making international money transfers cheap, fair and simple. They now have over 7 million customers and process over US $5 billion per month in international transactions. With investors including Sir Richard Branson, and PayPal founders Peter Thiel and Max Levchin, Transferwise is one of the world’s most successful and profitable FinTech. 

Tier One People’s Dexter Cousins chats to Tim about his own journey with the business and their plans for Australia.

You have quite a few years of history with the Transferwise business. Could you share a little bit more about what Transferwise does?

Transferwise is a global technology company. We’re building the best way to move money around the world. We make it possible for our customers to send, spend and receive money internationally at the real exchange rate. 

The business started about 10 years ago. Our founders Taavet (Hinrikus) and Kristo (Käärmann) are two friends from Estonia. Working in London, being paid in one currency but having expenses in another whilst honouring commitments back home made them realise how much money they were being charged each month.  They quickly worked out a reciprocal agreement to help make money transfers amongst themself in the currencies they needed, using Reuters exchange rate online to figure out the fairest exchange rates. 

When their friends heard about it, the idea snowballed. It was a lightbulb moment as they realised this was a problem for millions of people globally. A discovery more than a decade ago led to Transferwise’s existence. 

How did an Aussie living in Melbourne end up joining Transferwise in the UK?

While I was living in Melbourne I saw an ad for the role in the UK. I took advantage of the great visa arrangements between Australia and the UK, applied and the rest is history.

During my first years with the business I worked on the unit economics model, built with the express purpose of helping us to understand how to price and how to invest in marketing. My role then naturally started to gravitate more to the data. This was key in helping to understand, fix or build new parts of the business. 

In a software company, this means working with engineers, without them nothing gets changed or fixed. Understanding problems, coming up with new product ideas, and then implementing them for the benefit of our customers is what led to my role as a product manager. At Transferwise our teams are structured around the Product Manager as the central node.  I operated a full stack team tasked with launching Transferwise in new markets and optimising existing markets. 

I was lucky enough to launch Transferwise in 10 countries in my role as a product manager, before I returned to Australia as the Country Manager.

What were the challenges you faced launching the Transferwise product in all of these locations?

We’re often the first to do something in a market or country. For example, the first online money transfer, making transfers instant, or introducing electronic verification. These challenges might be technical, regulatory or commercial and when you’re the first company to do it, it can be very resource intensive. 

We’ve set the global standard of what a good customer experience looks like in the UK and Europe. We know what we need, what the end product looks like. Singapore is a great example of bringing a global standard to a new market. Four years ago customers in Singapore had to be verified in person, there was no way to verify them online. 

We set up a tiny office in the centre of Singapore with one employee just to carry out ID verification to people to use Transferwise. Fast forward to today and we fully integrate with Singapore’s national identity database to make it seamless for Singaporean customers to get onboarded.

We’re really proud  we’ve now made it possible for any new business in Singapore, to utilise this new global standard.

The values and philosophy of the business have been echoed in your hiring process. Could you tell us more about how Transferwise have managed to find talent?

We hire people who have shown a true affinity for their customers in previous roles. Talking about the profit you’ve delivered without sharing the customer problems you’ve solved is not really the way to get your foot in the door. 

We want people who can identify the opportunities within the business as it grows. For them to discover what they are good at and really focus on fixing problems. 

Kristo, our co-founder and CEO cares a lot about the mission. He wants to be able to say  Transferwise is setting the new global standard in bringing transparency to international money transfer.

 

What have you learned on your journey of Product Manager to Country Manager.

The role of a Product Manager role is an integral one to any software business. I’m not a huge fan of the saying a Product Manager is the mini CEO. What’s great about the role is being the lead, being on the front line and at the centre of the battle of ideas.  It’s all about making sure you’re building towards the company’s goals. Transferwise has a very clear company mission and a platform for product managers to really shine.

Moving back to Australia and taking up the role of Country Manager was a huge decision. I’ve moved from HQ of a large growing company to the most remote outpost. The Product Manager is much more of an internal role working across teams. My role now requires lots more external facing. 

This includes working with banking partners, negotiating and being the point of escalation for improvements. I am now the face to Transferwise in Australia for regulators and at public events. Whilst I didn’t have the most experience in these areas, I felt confident taking the role knowing Transferwise had the resources to support me on the journey.

How have you managed to take the essence of the culture of the business and move it to Australia with you?

We’ve done a great job embedding the Transferwise culture of autonomous teams and putting customers first, here in Australia. I have been lucky enough to enlist some old timers to move from London to Australia to help seed culture. 

We are all about empowering employees to do what’s best for our customers. It was a wise decision by Transferwise founders Kristo and Taavet to allow our employees to figure out what’s best for our customers. 

We’re doing this across time zones and managing different communication styles. At the same time Transferwise does have full stack support and operational support coming from Singapore which is not too different time wise. This has resulted in us thriving. 

“We hire people who have shown a true affinity for their customers”

Tim Cameron Transferwise

How long has Transferwise been operational in Australia?

We launched our “send money” product in Australia in 2015.  We now have offices Melbourne and Sydney with risk/compliance, marketing and comms teams here and support coming from Singapore.

Globally we’re processing over 7 billion Australian dollars for customers every month. I think the number we’re most proud of is we’re saving our customers, over $1.5 billion Australian dollars a year or $5 million AUD a day compared to using their bank. Globally, a quarter of our international money transfers are delivered instantly. The transaction happens in less than 20 seconds while the customer is still on the Transferwise app. 

You’ve got some really interesting partnerships. Have you got any other exciting partnerships lined up? 

We’re about to roll out Transferwise for banks product and we have partnered with Up Bank here in Australia. This allows banks who want to integrate with Transferwise to power international money transfers for their customers. We’re also exploring a lot of partnerships around our business product. Globally, we onboard about 10,000 new businesses every month. 

Some of the partnerships we’ve built are, GoCardless, so people can settle the direct debits they’ve received internationally. We have integration feeds with Xero and QuickBooks. Anyone using the accounting software can avoid doing any manual entry. We also have a project with Xero going on in the UK which allows Xero customers to use Transferwise to pay their bills. 

What does the future hold for Transferwise? 

2020 Has been a big half year for us. We’ve announced an integration with Alipay for customer sending money to China. We launched the UAE’s first fully online money transfer service. Our customers are currently holding £2 billion in Transferwise’s multi currency accounts. We’ve just released a feature  allows our customers to send money to each other across borders instantly using just the mobile number. 

We’re hoping to continue this same momentum in the second half of the year. Our real push here in Australia is to make money transfer as cheap as possible for customers especially as we actually pay the highest prices for money transfers of any developed country in the world. Australian banks can get away with charging big markups and hidden markups, we want to change that.

Many people don’t realise they’re not getting the rate they see on Google. The result is the majority of people paying far above the odds to send money overseas. We’re working with the ACCC and other regulators to show solutions we use in Europe and how they could be applied in Australia. We know how big a problem it is and Transferwise has the ability to solve it.

Bianca Bates Cuscal
Bianca Bates – Cuscal

Bianca Bates is Chief Client Officer at Cuscal, Australia’s largest independent provider of payment solutions. Cuscal has a rich history of technology innovation in Australia and is the main investor behind Neo bank 86 400. They were the first provider to go live on the new payments platform, switching on 30 clients simultaneously on one day.

Tier One People’s Dexter Cousins talks to Bianca about the next evolution for Cuscal as we enter the open banking era.

Could you tell us a little bit more about Cuscal.

Cuscal is Australia’s leading provider of payment solutions. We are an ADI (Authorised Deposit taking Institution) and have all the same licencing and payment capabilities as the major banks in Australia. However, we provide our services on a wholesale basis operating in the business to business space. What it means in essence is, we provide the back office functions for mutuals, credit unions and Fintech’s.

Cuscal have been operating in Australia since the 1960’s, formed by the mutual sector as an industry body. Our origins in the mutual sector mean culturally we have always had our members best interests at heart.  Cuscal’s strong focus on the customer experience and  passion to “do the right thing” is at the core of our values.

Could you share with us some of the work Cuscal has completed, in particular your involvement in the new payments platform?

We have been heavily involved in financial technology innovation from our inception. Back in 1977 we launched Australia’s first ATM in collaboration with Queensland Teachers Credit Union. In 1982 we were the first to issue a scheme debit card in Australia. Fast forward to 2018, which was a huge year for Cuscal, we had the NPP launch.

Cuscal enabled 50% of those financial institutions to go live. Later that same year we simultaneously launched over 30 clients going live with the three global digital wallets, Apple, Google and Samsung. It was an immensely proud year for us.

We built on our success the following year when we launched the first digitally issued card for one of our clients in Western Australia.

You’re the main investors in 86 400, the digital bank, could you provide us some insight into how you became involved.

Our journey towards a digital bank started many years ago.  We saw digital banking as the future of banking. The real opportunity for us lay in our end to end payment expertise and a long history of working with banking clients.

In August 2017 business case approval was granted and we started work. From the beginning we made a conscious choice to establish an independent organisation with its own leadership team, premises and board to allow the organisation its independence and autonomy.

This ensured the right focus to achieve the vision, and last September 86 400 was born. We’re so proud of the innovative, mobile only banking experience now being offered to Australians through 86400.

As the founding shareholder, our licence agreement with 86 400 effectively enables Cuscal to be the sole distribution partner for all of the digital capabilities we have built. Our goal was to allow Cuscal the ability to launch those capabilities to other clients, which is our plan in the coming year.

What are some of the opportunities you’re seeing for Cuscal?

We have a very broad base of clients who are predominantly based in Australia, with a couple of US clients. These include large and small financial institutions, Acquiring Clients, Fintechs, Corporates and Payment facilitators.  We’re focusing on how we can deliver the solutions our current clients need in the most optimised manner.

We are also doing what we do best, being the source of thought leadership to our clients. Being a scout for what is coming down the pipeline in terms of investing their money, as well as providing some perspective and prioritisation.

Open banking is a big area for us. The 86 400 white label licence services also provide us the opportunity to utilise some of the digital capabilities for our clients that we built for 86 400. COVID-19 has highlighted the need to have a really clear digital strategy and a digital engagement programme. We are planning a roll out of some of these services for our existing clients in the year ahead.

 

How have you been able to change the mindset of the business to go on this tech journey with you?

It’s certainly been a journey. The positive decision to change and diversify was made approximately 10 years ago. New products require capability from technology. It required a rethink in the way we delivered programmes of work. From this came the need to bring in people who have successfully managed similar programmes to drive change.

The NPP programme was probably our biggest learning platform. When we started the build of NPP, waterfall practices were our go to method.  We quickly moved to an agile way of delivery which again meant new people to drive the upskilling we needed. Many FinTech startups go through a growing pain process and the NPP was our experience with those pains.

Pushing to have 30 clients go live in one day also gave us the confidence to recognise we are a nimble organisation with less complexity than the major banks.

What is the culture you’re trying to create within Cuscal?

Cuscal have always been; a) client focused, with an emphasis on doing the right thing and b) providing a great employee experience. This has become even more focussed in recent years.

There’s four main areas we look for in our people. Top of this list is energy. We want people who are looking to make a difference and getting stuff done. 

The second is people who will work as one team, people who think only of their own success and reward tend not to work for us.

Thirdly we want people who are accountable in all aspects of their work, process, product, service whatever it may be.

Finally being outcome focused. Having a really clear strategy to make sure everything they’re doing is driving towards executing their strategy.

How have you gone about attracting the calibre of individuals to allow you to go on this big transformation?

We’ve had a few challenges, one of these is competing with the Neo banks. People are naturally attracted to the hottest startups who get a lot of press. Our strength is Cuscal being a bank. It comes with financial security, regulation, certainty. Startups can be exciting but they also come with a lot of risk.

We are well networked from an industry perspective. Our people sit on most of the working groups, boards, committees and forums in Australia from a payments perspective. All of the benefits that come with working for a bank. Our dual pronged approach is that we are also a FinTech. We work on innovative and transformative products and services. But we offer an environment where our people have the resources to deliver. We’re essentially the best of both worlds.

We’re also a small organisation who encourage our people to sit in on forums with leadership, board members and their direct reports . Our people have a voice and provide invaluable feedback.

Do you find that the relentless focus Cuscal places on its customers has helped you in attracting the right people?

Our heritage in the mutual space has seeped through to our organisation. Cuscal has an ethos of doing the right thing for our customers. Our way of operating is in complete contrast to other organisations where they are KPI driven. The benefit for our people is the opportunity for them to stand up and really differentiate themselves in the market to their end customers.

Cuscal is really enabling competition in the Australian market and we’re really proud to be able to support this thinking.

What is the big vision for Cuscal?

Data is at the heart of driving a tailored customer experience. Mobile being the first way in which consumers are looking to engage. Our beliefs form our strategy which I summarise as four pillars.

Firstly, Our clients need to get to market as quickly and cheaply as possible. We’re making everything really modular, plug and play to enable this.

The second pillar is around expanding our client reach to ensure we can scale to deliver much more competitive pricing for our customers. We’ve made significant investments in NPP, as well as digital capabilities and our fraud solutions. We’re really looking to scale those solutions and reach as many customers as possible.

“Cuscal has an ethos of doing the right thing for our customers”

bianca bates

The third area is increasing the relevance of our payment solutions. Many products we have been delivering since inception. We need to continually focus on using the right systems and tech stack to deliver those products. An example of our focus here is with our fraud platform which we replaced when we introduced NPP’s new payments stream. We now have a new platform using machine learning and artificial intelligence for fraud monitoring services to customers.

The fourth area is making strategic investments in innovation. We really see this as essential in maintaining our position of leadership and relevance whilst capturing emerging markets.

Our big focus here is really on open banking, hence our investment in bringing 86 400 to life. We’re really clear on our strategy. We’re into the second year of our five year plan.

Forbes recently launched their list of the world’s top banks based on factors including ethics and customer centricity. Of the twenty Australian banks that featured, I’m proud to say seven are clients of Cuscal.

Carolyn Breeze – GoCardless

Carolyn Breeze is General Manager for the ANZ region of GoCardless, a global payments platform designed for recurring payments. They process more than $13 billion in transactions each year. Gocardless is backed by some major players in the VC world, including Accel partners, Salesforce Ventures, and Google Ventures. 

Carolyn is a payments veteran holding senior positions at eBay, PayPal, and winner of the ‘Women in Payments Award’ in 2019. 

Carolyn talks with Tier One People‘s Dexter Cousins about her journey and shares her tips on how to make the Country Manager role a success.

How did you get started down the path of FinTech and payments?

My journey into Fintech started with Braintree, which was part of the PayPal business. To provide some background, Braintree is the technology stack behind the acceptance of credit cards. They helped build some of the world’s most amazing payment experiences for companies like Uber and Airbnb. 

It was an exciting time as the technology and company kept evolving. But in order to continue my career in this field, I acknowledged I needed to adopt an attitude of continuous learning especially around payments. And if I wanted to become a leader then I needed to develop skills in other areas too.

What were the origins of the GoCardless business and how did it get started?

GoCardless launched 6 years ago in the UK by three co-founders, Hiroki Takeuchi, our CEO, Tom (Blomfield) and Matt (Robinson). Together they developed a simple online tool that would allow SMEs to collect direct debit monies via bank debit. Both Tom and Matt have moved on to found other major Fintech companies, Monzo and Nested.

In the past banks made it incredibly difficult for SMB/SME’s to access these facilities because they needed to underwrite the risk associated with bank debits. A small business who wants to get bank debit facilities needs to put down a big reserve as security to mitigate the risk, often totalling hundreds of thousand of dollars. It was from this idea that GoCardless was born.

GoCardless is going from strength to strength in 2020. We are currently connected in 30 countries. With boots on the ground in London, Paris, Munich, Melbourne and San Francisco. Over 450,000 merchants use us as their platform every day. 

What about the culture and the people at GoCardless?

There were a couple of things that really jumped out to me when I was interviewing for the role. The business had an instant entrepreneurial feel. Everybody I met was very clear about the goals and outcomes of GoCardless. They were aligned to solve real problems on a global scale. Everyone I met was focused on how their role impacted the success of the business. I found this really inspiring.

Employees recognise what a great business GoCardless is and are fully invested in how they can play a part in the continued success. There is a collective passion. 

I love that everyone is rowing in the same direction“.

carolyn breeze

What are some of the challenges you faced in your position as country manager? Do you have any tips you can share?

The distance and the practicality around our different time zone is the greatest challenge.  To combat this we have to make sure there’s an extension of the culture between UK and all our global offices. Everyone adds to a companies culture as the organisation evolves.

Whilst our roots are in the UK and we have a lot of similarities between us, there were still things needing adjustments. We had to tweak our onboarding processes to suit as an example.  

It was very important and critical to our growth that we tweaked early and started to pivot certain elements. We brought our UK product to Australia, keeping everything that’s great about it, whilst carrying out tweaks for Australia to increase appeal to the local market.

Would you like to share some of your success stories?

We currently have 2100 active merchants using on a regular basis, which is incredible for how long we’ve been in the Australian market. 

In addition we have got great brands to join us including, Deputy, DocuSign, Siteminder, Vitality, Butn, Archa, Indebted, Glow Power, Pulse, Movember and most of these have been global deals, where GoCardless is used in multiple markets. 

Globally, we have about 230 different platforms. Xero, which is our key partner for us globally, has Gocardless as the only bank debit solution on their platform. 

Salesforce billing is one of our most recent global partnerships. Gocardless works with some fantastic billing platforms like Zora, Charge B, Charger Fire, Recurly, who have been instrumental in getting us to this point.

Listen to the Full Interview

How have you tackled identifying and attracting talent at GoCardless?

Early on I convinced two people on secondment from the UK office to stay here with me and continue the journey. They had both worked with the UK office for 3 to 4 years and brought an instant extension of the culture to Australia. It is a winning strategy, that I would highly recommend for other fintech launching in Australia.

In addition I’ve worked with some amazingly talented payment nerds over the last few years who reached out to me when I moved into this role. But as we grow it will become more challenging as we go outside of natural networks.

How do you assess culture fit in an interview? 

I hire passionate, dedicated people who have well researched ideas and buy into what we’re doing. Culture fit is the main part of our interview process. Which is why we have multi-level interviews including those carried out by peers. Some people make it easy for us to decide whether they will work out by their behaviour outside of the interview process. I always ask reception for their thoughts as an example. I am amazed how people are delightful to me in an interview yet awful to our people in reception.

We talk a lot about our values, why we do what we do and the problems we are trying to solve. We want to work with people who have pride in their job and bring craftsmanship to their role.

You can also learn a lot about a person in the language they use. “I” instead of “We” can often be a sign that someone takes credit for or doesn’t recognise the contribution of their colleagues. This attitude is a big problem in a startup.

What does the future hold for Gocardless?

It is so exciting to be part of this industry. We’ve recently stitched together our global network of bank debit schemes. We can now collect for you in 30 countries and settle back to your home account.

Our recent partnership with Transferwise has been a huge boost for our business, and it is a global first. We can also settle with your local entity of choice. For the first time we can now truly rival schemes like Visa, MasterCard and Amex which is really exciting.

We’ve used all the transactional data across the 30 billion dollars of payments that we process to build a payments intelligence platform. And we’ve developed a new product called Success Plus that uses AI. 

This has enabled us to use those analytics to drive further efficiency. Which allows us to understand our customers more. But we keep innovating, as I see so many fintechs pop up that are solving something for a consumer, educating them around how to manage their money better. It’s such an exciting industry to be part of.

Francine Ereira Klarna
Francine Ereira – Klarna

Francine Ereira is Country Head of Klarna, a Fintech founded in 2005 in Sweden, with the aim of making it easier for people to shop online. Klarna is now one of Europe’s largest banks, providing payment solutions for 85 million consumers across 205,000 merchants in 17 countries. 

Klarna offers a smooth, one click purchase experience that lets consumers pay when and how they prefer. Launching in Australia in February 2020 it counts Commonwealth Bank, Sequoia Capital, Visa and even Snoop Dogg as investors. 

Francine talks about the launch with Tier One People‘s Dexter Cousins.

Can you tell us a little bit more about Klarna?

Klarna established in Stockholm 15 years ago by three young Swedish gentlemen, with a simple vision to make online payments easier for consumers and retailers. We completed our first transaction back in April 2005 in partnership with a Swedish bookshop. Since then, we’ve expanded into 19 markets, serve over 85 million consumers and work with in excess of 205,000 retailers across the globe.

Klarna recently decided to launch in Australia. Why did they choose Australia?

Australia is a relatively mature market. It’s sophisticated with an engaged consumer base who are willing to try new payment products. Based on our adoption of Klarna, Australia as a country is always looking for something bigger, better and bolder, especially in the millennial market.

What Australia brings for Klarna is the ability for us to position ourselves as a responsible lender. We are helping consumers to budget and we are partnering with retailers to help them grow their businesses. The reason Klarna came to Australia is our competitors in this market have a very transactional relationship. What Klarna does well globally is develop relationships by engaging customers through curated personal content, rather than just a transaction. 

What was it about Klarna other than the product that attracted you to the business?

During my first week at Zip Co I was present at a partnership meeting with Klarna. What I remember about that meeting was the level of professionalism and the pace at which Klarna worked. They had dedication to working towards a great opportunity. Whilst the opportunity to partner with Klarna didn’t work out with Zip, it stayed in my mind the ease of which they wanted to partner and how they went about doing that. I witnessed first hand their passion and devotion to solving problem spaces. When Klarna announced their partnership with CBA in Australia, I knew this was my chance to be part of it.

How has the relationship with CBA been working so far? Is it a hands on relationship or are they very hands off?

 

 

We’ve got a really close working relationship. There is a strong alignment between Klarna and CBA. We both have a commitment towards customer obsession and protecting consumers, for example our drive towards responsible lending.

We have regular meetings to discuss growth and what we both want to achieve in this market. It’s not like it’s big brother watching over us. It truly is a partnership, exploring a range of opportunities to grow together, including co-marketing opportunities and developing opportunities as we go.

How would you describe the culture of the business having been in the seat for a few months now? 

 

The culture is honestly something that I’ve not experienced before. I’ve worked with very large global corporations and some great startups. Klarna’s cultural perspective encourages people to speak up and take accountability. Empowerment is something in our organisation I find incredible. We empower everyone to deliver in a fast paced environment.

To provide some insight of how empowering it is I’ll share a conversation Sebastian and I had. He told me “Fran, Australia is yours to make successful” and I said “What does successful look like?” He said “No, you tell me what successful looks like to you and then go and deliver on it, because I know that’s what you’re capable of doing”.

That’s the essence of the culture, it is truly incredible

FRANCINE EREIRA

If I can paint more literal picture, we work in small teams of eight people. Each team focuses on an individual problem space, looking to foster a startup mentality. If you think about our product space, we are quickly able to iterate and enhance our products based on customer feedback.

That’s something that you don’t see a lot of in big tech teams that have longer roadmaps, you can’t have that agility, which is the complete opposite of our small teams. 

Klarna still identifies people by core competencies, data and analytics, finance, marketing, tech product, etc. But every team, irrespective of competence is only eight people. And some of those teams will be cross functional. Our product team, for example, has lawyers, analysts and developers.

Basically a group of people who can run a small business sufficiently on their own within the organisation. It’s a really clever concept because it means that you’re able to self service, right? You’re not relying on all these other pieces, you’re actually self sufficient to run and that means you can run faster, quicker and achieve desired outcomes.

What are the plans for the business here in Aus?

 

 

We’ve got some very big plans for Aus. Today we are 27 people and we’re growing quickly in the market, which is really exciting. We’ve had a very warm reception and that’s mainly because consumers are truly at the heart of everything we do. 

I could have utilised support and services from our central services team in Sweden. The reality of the time differences between us brought about a realisation that this didn’t quite work, we really needed to create those roles within Australia. The team is a lot bigger than initially forecasted year one because we don’t want to compromise on the level of service and delivery to our customers.

The reality is that Australia is a competitive landscape. Only 10% of Australians have actually conducted a buy now pay later transaction. We’re seeing numbers grow on a daily basis with new audiences, particularly with the pandemic. There’s a whole new audience now shopping online that haven’t before. 

What we want to do is disrupt and show consumers what an amazing shopping experience looks like and to show Australians that we can deliver what they want. We do listen and put customers at the centre of everything that we’re doing.  Our ambitions are very bold, and I’m very confident that we can deliver on them. I can’t wait to show the results of that in a couple of years time.

Listen To The Full Interview.

 

I’d like to go back a little bit further in your career to really understand how you got started in FinTech?

 

 

My foray into FinTech was quite an interesting one. I was actually working at Tomando, which you may recall was an incredible fulfilment platform. During my time at Zip I had established really strong relationships within the payment ecosystem including platform providers, solution providers and retail. It was at a time when Larry was in the early stages at Zip Co, I think three years in at that stage, and looking at how to partner and breakthrough. We started talking and did a dance around for quite a number of months until I was I love the sound of this. This is really exciting, I think I need to get on board. Which was how I got into the FinTech space.

Fran, you are one of a group of highly talented female leaders in Fintech. What is your advice to others wanting to follow in your shoes?

 

 

The reality is all jobs out there are there for the taking by anybody, irrespective of race or gender. It think it boils down to females being less likely to consider ourselves worthy of running the race. If we only tick 9 of the 10 boxes then we wont apply. The mindset of guys is different. They think I’ve got three of those things, let’s have a go. 

It’s about helping women take those risks because they are so capable. We are so judgmental of ourselves, we really are our own worst enemies to be quite honest, to a large degree we are perfectionists, when we don’t tick all the boxes, so we just don’t go for it.  

Personally, I think that’s a big contributing factor. Which is a shame because what you need around any boardroom table is a really diverse bunch of people.  Different people think and act in different ways, and ultimately you need that level of diversity to win and have robust challenges or conversations. And constructive conversations help you get to where you want to go. 

As a leader how do you get that across to the people in your team and your network?

 

 

One of the things that Klarna are quite good at doing particularly in trying to keep diversity and balance happening is seeking out people, giving them the confidence to give it a go. What I say to my team all the time, is if you’ve got what you think it takes to get this done, look at what you’ve got, not what you don’t have, to deliver and go for it

It doesn’t matter whether there are guys or girls in my team or not at the end of the day, I want everyone to strive and push themselves further than they’ve ever pushed themselves because we all benefit collectively from that.

Emma Weston Agridigital
Emma Weston – AgriDigital

Emma Weston is the CEO and a co-founder at AgriDigital, an AgTech meets FinTech company. They digitise and de-risk global Agri supply-chains with a current focus on the grain and cotton industries. 

When did you found AgriDigital and how big are you now? 

Emma: I’ve got two co-founders, Bob McKay and Ben Reed. We’ve actually all worked together for a really long time. There’s lots of gray hair on the team and the main focus of our domain is agriculture and green supply chains. That’s what we know really well, but throughout our history we’ve been building our own companies and our own tech and we’ve also been building out supply chain finance businesses.

We came together again in 2015 as a trio and founded AgriDigital. The mission, to build a single source of truth platform that was going to deliver simple, secure, and cost effective core supply chain operations technology to the SME sector in the supply chain. 

And at the same time crucially provide access to working capital. That was the mission that brought us together. We had a small core team, with a couple of developers that we’d worked with previously, in previous businesses. And we’re now at just a little over 40 people with operations in Australia and a team of 10 people in Manila in the Philippines. We’re also now branching into North America, both the USA and Canada. 

What Opportunities Are You Seeing In The US Market For AgriDigital?

Emma: Massive, just in terms of scale for us. To give everyone an idea, our target market is farmers and buyers, traders, and consumers of grain commodities. Our customers would be a dairy or a feedlot or a mill as an example, but also storage and logistics companies.

We are very much a whole of supply chain tech in terms of our offering and the market in the US and Canada. Well, let’s just take North America. It has a combined market almost 15 times the size of the Australian market, and that’s just by an economic value, but in terms of number of participants, it’s around about 25 times the size, so in terms of the number of users it’s a massive market as well. 

How did your make the move into the US. What were some of the challenges that you faced? 

Emma: It’s been pretty challenging this year, that’s for sure. Location was critical. What is the best location in a massive market, where should we launch? How do we get the talent needed for our business? How do we easily access to our customer base? Our farmering customers in the US and Canada are spread across the country, which makes it difficult.

It’s not possible to have an office footprint that’s going to serve everyone. Location was a big challenge to begin with. Covid-19 has forced a change in our thinking. We recognise now our focus should not be on location, but on talent. Where is the talent and how do we tool up the talent and bring them on and use our culture as a bonding tool to ensure that we can all work together, even if we’re not in the same location. 

So that’s been an initial challenge, also just maintaining and seeding a culture, if that makes sense. How do you take what you’ve built in Australia and take that across from a team perspective. Most of the challenges have been internal as opposed to the challenges of the market or the challenges of the customer, all the product, which we really do have a good handle on.

Emma Weston on the FinTech Australia Podcast.

How do you position blockchain with a Farmer? Even people in the FinTech industry often struggle to wrap their heads around blockchain and what it actually is.

Emma: I think it’s a really interesting question as to whether we have deliberately tried to position anything at all, or whether we have allowed the product and the problem to speak for itself. Increasingly we have worked with our audience to understand that blockchain is not a silver bullet. It’s not a solution in total. It’s part of a toolkit that we need in order to be able to attack these really big problems around integrity and trust within our food and agricultural system. 

Also, so we can deal with quite operational matters, such as back office efficiencies, trading book or position reconciliation in real time, payments and so forth. So we’ve really focused on three areas or three buckets as we call them.

One of those is around payment and transaction security and talking about that with farmers and others. Another one is around network and market efficiency. So the value that we all get by starting to come onto a common platform and common piece of infrastructure.  And the third area is around the transparency and providence piece. 

You’ve got a new Product WayPath. 

Emma: You are being very kind giving me an opening here Dexter.  We do have some good news to share, a new product Waypath launching on 26 June. It’s a global product targeting farmers, not just in Australia and North America. It enables farmers to become their own trader, their own elevator or storage operator and to be able to enter the supply chain and manage their commodities into the supply chain in their own right. 

We’re really excited to be offering WayPath. It is a way to connect the digitalization on the farm with the digitization in the supply chain. We’re basically providing a product that is the last link between farm digitization and supply chain digitization. It’s going to be really, really big for farmers. We’ve got heaps of interest and engagement by our early adopter group. 

It really is just the beginning. It’s initial focus is our supply chain, but we have plans for Waypath to deliver our supply chain finance in the future. So we’ll be bringing finance at the click of a button to farmers globally. 

Marie Steinthaler Truelayer
Marie Steinthaler -TrueLayer

I would define open banking as a manifestation of the belief that the data that you create when you bank is yours. So the information that you create, every time you pay for something, you send a payment, you use your banking services, that is your data, and you should be able to use that data to your benefit.

Marie Steinthaler – TrueLayer

Dexter Cousins speaks with Marie Steinthaler, VP Asia with Truelayer about Australia’s 1st July launch of CDR and open banking.

Marie can you tell us more about TrueLayer?

TrueLayer is a platform that provides global access to open banking. And what I mean by that is essentially a way for our clients to securely access their end users bank data, and payment capability through one normalised platform. And we do that by going out and finding the best banking API’s out there. We then normalise across many different countries, use cases, API protocols, you name it, and then package it up in a platform that our clients can build on top of and innovate on top of by using their customers banking data or payment rails.

For those that don’t know what open banking is, Could you give a brief overview for an everyday customer?

I would define open banking as a manifestation of the belief that the data that you create when you bank is yours. So the information that you create, every time you pay for something, you send a payment, you use your banking services, that is your data, and you should be able to use that data to your benefit. Whether that be better pricing, better access to products, verify certain things about your person that may otherwise be hard to verify. And to just make it very easy for you to be in control of how that data gets shared and how it gets used. 

The empowerment of the customer is very much at the heart of open banking. Beyond that, at an industry level, it’s about making the collaboration between financial institutions and fintechs more open and more focused around the customer. That’s at the heart of it. And TrueLayer was born to enable such a collaboration.

You recently partnered with Revolut. How’s that going?

Yeah, going great. And we love working with Revolut and other internationally minded high growth, tech forward businesses. I like to call them an execution machine. They’re so good at putting new products out there and listening to their customers. They make it very easy for customers to adopt new things like open banking. And we’re excited about some of the new things they’re working on as well.

You are about to launch in Australia? What is it about Australia that’s attractive to TrueLayer?

We are building a global platform. So while we started in the UK and expanded to Europe, when we looked at the rest of the world, it was really a case of looking for markets where a few things are in place. One is a growing and well supported FinTech ecosystem. The second is regulators who are conducive and supportive of open banking, and want it to happen quickly. The third is our existing customers and if they want to expand to a region. 

Australia scores well for TrueLayer on all three criteria. And, as I’m sure you know, FinTech Australia, and organisations like that are testament to the growing ecosystem in the market. There’s also a huge amount of room for disruption. When you when you look at how profitable Australia is, as a market for financial services, as the saying goes your margin is my opportunity

Australia has had some very well documented trust issues with banks and a royal commission. What have you learned from open banking in the UK that you think Australia can action to really help push ahead?

One narrative I’ve heard in a lot of conversations with potential clients or people in the Australian ecosystem is sometimes a bit of impatience or disappointment with the speed of the development in Australia.

If the CDR API is launched in July, it’s still going to be faster than PSD2 was launched in the UK and in Europe. Fundamentally, I think for such a complex industry spanning project, Australia is  doing a decent job at speed. 

Obviously, that’s no reason to slow down and I think we all want it to happen. ASAP. 

I would focus on thinking about use cases and not being afraid to give use cases a try. The big questions and the most important aspect of CDR is Will people actually use this? Are they going to be willing to share their data?

When CDR launches I expect to see a rolling start. I don’t expect a switch to flick on July 1st and CDR will be all functional and ready. But the success of CDR does require some early adopters, innovators and thought leaders to take the plunge and use the infrastructure. It’s the only way to improve, because it’s not going to get better if no one uses it. 

That is a risk. Luckily in the UK, we work with companies who were willing to take that leap with us. I’m pretty optimistic that there will be companies in Australia who want to do this, don’t want to give anyone an excuse to shut CDR down. It’s up to all of us as an industry to say let’s make this useful. And let’s make it happen.

Paul Weingarth Slyp
Paul Weingarth – Slyp

The big vision for Slyp is to completely transform the way retail and commerce for that matter is done. That sounds like a pretty big bold ambition. You look at what’s happening in China, in Asian markets, for example, you’ve got these super apps, Alipay and WeChat Pay.

paul weingarth – slyp

Paul Weingarth is CEO and Co-Founder of Slyp, an innovative provider of digital receipts sent straight to your banking app. Slyp eliminates paper receipts, helps retailers’ engage with customers and makes it easier to file tax returns.

2020 has been a big year with CBA investing in the business, making Slyp the first Fintech startup to partner with all 4 major banks in Australia.

How did the idea for Slyp come about?

I spent part of my career at PayPal, where I lead the merchant and strategic partnership team for Australia and New Zealand. I saw a huge opportunity to provide a step change in the consumer experience. Particularly around paper receipts and unlocking value around the payment. What I couldn’t see was a platform for retailers and consumers to engage in a much more personalised and engaging way. 

But it was a personal experience that I had while I was paying with my phone. I was buying a power tool, and I got to the checkout, tapped my phone. And after the transaction, the cashier told me to take a picture of the receipt on my phone and email it to myself. 

I thought There’s got to be a better way of doing this, particularly with the evolution of contactless payments and how far that technology’s come. Australia really is a world leader, but the stuff that happens post payment or around the payment is being left behind with paper receipts.

Assembling The A-Team.

The Slyp team (Left, Mike Boyd, Paul Weingarth, Spiro Rokos)

I was very fortunate to find two other co-founders. I am very humbled that they came on the journey when I had this crazy idea to transform the post purchasing experience. Spiro Rokos, our CTO and Chief Product officer was formerly the Head of Technology at PayPal, so I have a long standing working relationship with him. 

Most importantly, early on when he and I were together, we realised the banking world is a completely different beast. We needed to find someone who had really solid executive experience in the banks. And that’s when Mike Boyd came along. Mike was the former CIO of the institutional bank at ANZ. And in his most recent role before he left to join us, was Group Data Officer of the bank. So we were very fortunate for Mike to join.

What’s the Big Vision You Have For Slyp?

The movement away from physical contact and the acceleration of moving to a cashless society. Receipts are an extension to that, and we see a big opportunity for us to make an impact right now. And in the future with a more intuitive and clever way for retailers to engage with their customers after they leave the store.

The big vision for Slyp is to completely transform the way retail and commerce for that matter is done. That sounds like a pretty big bold ambition. You look at what’s happening in China, in Asian markets, for example, you’ve got these super apps, Alipay and WeChat Pay. They’ve done an incredible job at not only transforming the use of cash to digital, but completely transforming the way consumers and merchants connect. 

You can book a restaurant table, you can repurchase items that you bought in the store online through their app, it’s incredible what they’ve done. 

The payment is the commodity, moving money from A to B is the commodity, it’s what you wrap around the payment. Now, if you look at the players like Alipay and Wechat, they operate in what we call a closed loop environment or what we in the payments industry refer to as a three party model.

The unfair advantages of a three party model is that the digital wallet (wechat, Alipay) they know, every single customer and every single merchant in the transaction. The model is conducive to enabling amazing connections between merchants and consumers, because there’s one centralised provider of that payment system and that network. Now if you look at what’s happening in Australia, for example, the way banks operate is a four party mode. There is no common denominator and a lot of fragmentation under that model. 

One of the reasons the banks want to partner with us is, we take all the benefits of a three party model and bring it into the four party model. By consolidating these fragmented networks into one network, and into one standard, Slyp is creating a whole new world of opportunity for retailers to re-engage with customers in a personalised clever way around the payment.

Tell us more about Slyp’s partnership with the Big Four banks.

Our distribution is reliant on the scale of the banks to actually deliver the receipt to the customer inside the banking app. Customers will simply be able to pay with their card or their phone. And then without having to do anything different, they will receive this smart receipt. So it’s not just a digital safe, it’s a smart receipt with a bunch of really intuitive features that instantly and automatically go integrate with your banking app with context. So when you click on a transaction or when you want to search for a receipt, it’s all sitting there right inside your banking app. 

Obviously, for the solution to work it is paramount we get those banks on board and  partnerships in place. Banks have a really good coverage when it comes to the retail or the merchant side. So we’re partnering with them to roll out the solution across Australia on both sides of the network, which is very, very exciting. 

What’s been your experience collaborating with the Big Four banks? And how open are the banks to working with Fintech? 

The banks have done collaborations before, Eftpos, Bpay and even most recently with the New Payments Platform. So it isn’t uncharted territory in terms of banks collaborating to build an industry standard. Where our collaboration is uncharted territory is for the Big 4 to invest in an early stage FinTech like Slyp, who operate completely independent of them.

And I really think that’s a new way of innovating. And putting the customer at the centre of innovation. And we’re really humbled and honoured to have the opportunity to build this in partnership with the banks for Australia. I mean, it’s a, it’s a big, it’s a big task for us to take on. We’re a relatively small team, but we can move fast and obviously, with the backing of the banks, not only from a financial perspective, but from a distribution perspective, all of the pieces of the puzzle come together quite nicely. 

People say, Oh, you’re in the receipts business or you’re in the data business, the rewards business. No, we’re in the business of customer experience. And that’s what gets us out of bed every morning.

paul weingarth – Slyp

We hope our collaboration with the banks is a signal to many fintechs. I think more than ever, the banks are realising that rather than build ourselves, let’s partner. 

To be fair to the banks there’s a big disconnect too. We even went through this ourselves. What we thought was enterprise bank grade ready was not. To go from a proof of concept to a fully functioning core banking app is like learning how to drive a car vs. learning to fly a plane.

If the FinTech community wants to truly partner with banks then they need to be particularly strong in areas like security, data governance and privacy. Otherwise you are turning up to a gunfight with a knife.

Security, privacy etc. are very important to us. But our obsession as a FinTech, as with every other FinTech is to focus on the customer. People say, Oh, you’re in the receipts business or you’re in the data business, the rewards business. No, we’re in the business of customer experience. And that’s what gets us out of bed every morning.

And our obsession as a FinTech, as with every other FinTech is solely focus on the customer. People say, Oh, you’re in the receipts business or you’re in the data business, the rewards business. No, we’re in the business of customer experience. And that’s what gets us out of bed every morning.

Slyp has a tremendous board. Has that made life a bit easier to get more traction? 

Absolutely, particularly now with CBA, coming onto the board, it really does cement Slyp as the partner to deliver an industry standard for digital receipting. Retailers, they all understand the value prop. They all understand that this is the right thing to do for their customers.

They all understand that this is actually really good value for them as a business. But what they weren’t so sure about, Is Slyp the real deal? Are we the chosen one? So there were still some question marks obviously before this announcement with CBA having a big chunk of the consumer card issuing space.

I don’t know the exact numbers, but CBA definitely holds the leading position. So we were very fortunate that CBA came on to the network and that is absolutely going to help us flourish.

FinTech Australia Talent Market Place
FinTech Talent Market Launch In Partnership With FinTech Australia.

FinTech Australia has partnered with Tier One People to launch a Fintech Talent Market in response to increasing job losses through the Covid-19 crisis.

The marketplace, run through LinkedIn Groups, aims to connect people in the Fintech community who have lost their jobs to Fintech companies with jobs.

Revolut, Xinja, Up, Wisr, 86 400, Airwallex, ReInventure Group, Tyro, Lendi and Spriggy are just some of the companies to show their support by joining the group. Jobs and opportunities will start to be advertised in the group this week.

“This crisis will cost many their jobs, and the fintech industry is not immune. However the FinTech Talent Marketplace is a way that we can help those whose jobs are impacted and keep them in the ecosystem,” FinTech Australia GM Rebecca Schot-Guppy said.

“This is a closed marketplace, for people in the Fintech community. While we are setting this up now, we believe that this initiative will play a key role in the recovery phase of this crisis through growing and hiring staff,”

Dexter Cousins, Managing Director of Tier One People added: “We’ve had an incredible response from the community since we started the marketplace. We are encouraging FinTech Australia’s counterparts across the world to follow our lead. We would love to see this become a global FinTech community initiative.

“Hiring in these conditions is incredibly challenging for employers. Where posting a regular job ad could usually lead to one hundred applications, now it could easily see one thousand. Time poor founders can’t manage these volumes of interest. 

“This marketplace is helping connect experienced fintech industry talent with the companies that can utilize their skills most. In the process we are keeping talent in the industry. It’s completely free for talent and Fintech Australia Affiliated Companies to join the group. Now is the time for Tier One People and FinTech Australia to play a key role in reinforcing the value of community as we navigate this pandemic. “ 

Apply To Join The Programme

Fintech Jobs Report Tier One People
Fintech Jobs Report Covid19 Crisis

How Is Covid-19 Impacting The Fintech jobs market in Sydney and Melbourne right now?

As someone who has been in the recruitment industry since the last millenium, I can tell you we are in unprecedented times when it comes to the job market. Mass unemployment overnight, businesses shut down, workforces banned from their office, I feel like I am living in a Hollywood disaster movie! It calls for a different Fintech Jobs Report this month.

If we take a macro view, then we should rightfully get scared for our jobs. But if we take a micro view, is there reason to be more optimistic?

Let’s look at some of the job advert data first. Tier One People track and analyse Fintech job adverts across Seek, Indeed, LinkedIn and Glassdoor.

Fintech Jobs In Australia.

Most Fintech have put on hiring freezes, some have sadly started to make job cuts.

This is only a guess, but I’m pretty sure that most of the 417 jobs live at the beginning of March remain unfilled. Most of the jobs advertised now are from recruiters and from what I am hearing, it’s desperate times for the recruitment industry. I question how many of the adverts are genuine opportunities.

This bar chart illustrates how quickly we have seen the jobs market change in Australian Fintech in just 1 month.

So, with the market so quiet what can you do to navigate this period? If you are in work, I suggest you become indispensable to your employer. That means increasing productivity and demonstrating where you are CREATING value for the business.

If you do find yourself out of work this is the time to start rethinking your approach to the job search. You should take a read of this article and watch the video.

Getting ready for the rebound.

There will be a rebound in the job market, there always is but when it will happen is anyone’s guess. So we need to focus on the microview to get a sense as to what job opportunities may come about in Australian Fintech.

It’s also worth mentioning that anyone who has been successful in a startup is WAY ahead of the curve when it comes to the next phase of growth and hiring. We are already hearing of many stories where employees are struggling to perform working remotely. The highly structured environment of a corporate does not lend itself well to the new world of work we are now thrust into.

If companies do want to hire purely for skills, then with remote working there is a global talent pool to choose from. Why chose you when there are much cheaper options available? 

Put simply, your ability to get shit done and demonstrate where you create value for businesses/customers will be your differentiator.

Sydney Fintech Jobs.

With a bigger slice of the business banking pie, expect to see increased activity across this space. Government stimulus packages are mainly geared to SME’s. The big 4 banks will be left to administer the lending, but with enquiries in a single day equalling the total annual enquiries, how will the big 4 cope? 

We are already hearing of major problems in the UK where less than 900 loans have been approved since the stimulus package was rushed through parliament 3 weeks ago.

The reality is the banks will have to hire people as they don’t have the systems to cope. And they will also have to partner with Fintech to leverage their technology. 

Could we see an early adoption of open banking using API’s to connect small businesses directly with lenders? Can Xero, Intuit, MYOB etc provide the access to general ledgers to enable instant decisioning?

Do Sydney Fintech Startups Face The Biggest Risk To Jobs?

The big danger for the Sydney Fintech scene is the huge number of Fintech startups who are under capitalised and not generating significant (if any) revenue. I fear we could see many startups fail during the next 6 months which could have a huge impact on local jobs. I say could, many of these businesses employ 1-10 staff and many roles are part-time, offshore or outsourced. 

This opinion piece by Robin Klein, a board advisor at Transferwise gives a fair view point on where government need to focus, it’s business triage right now.

On the flip side, those Fintech companies well capitalised and generating revenue could be well positioned as we rebound. 

While I expect Australia to face a very long recovery, the companies that do well out of every downturn are the innovators. The Fintech industry has every reason to be optimistic. Especially if we embark on a new world order where monetary systems change, digital currencies become a reality and the world moves to embrace fairer systems of wealth distribution. That may be a decade away, but we all know the shift is inevitable. Is now the time for a true digital revolution?

If you have 30 minutes, watch this video with Ray Dalio – Validation for my optimism from one of the world’s most successful investors!

Melbourne Fintech Jobs.

With Melbourne being the home Revolut, Up, AirWallex, Transferwise, Square, Stripe (all well capitalised businesses) I am hopeful that the Fintech scene there will kick on.

There isn’t quite the concentration of early stage startups as Sydney which means there should be fewer redundancies and hopefully we can keep talent in the industry. Revolut, Airwallex and Square are still advertising open positions.

Where are we seeing big job losses so far?

Product Management – We’ve observed for some time that the challenge of Product/Market fit is a people challenge not a product challenge. The Australian market has never quite got to grips with the role and purpose of a product manager. And unfortunately, right now product management seems to be considered a role in which the responsibilities can be shared amongst tech, marketing and customer success.

Talent and HR – Need I explain?

Sales and Marketing – Any big salary earners not generating revenue are at risk. On the flip side we are seeing demand for revenue generating sales professionals and growth marketing.

Strategy and Innovation – Right now these are considered luxury positions. They may make a glorious comeback as the market comes back, at least historically. But any business hiring innovation people after this downturn is probably close to extinction. I would personally love to see innovation move away from being a department and become a core value engrained in every person in the business – dream on!

Tech and Engineering – It is highly unlikely we will see many if any redundancies of top tech talent. Where we will likely see redundancies are those who are currently overpaid and managed to secure high salaries because of supply/demand market forces vs talent. It’s great being in tech when the market is booming, but the very transactional nature of the tech industry means it can be very tough when the market is down. I’m sure we will see the Big 4 banks and mid-tier banks get excited by the prospect of snapping up people from Fintech when tech redundancies happen.

FinTech Australia Talent Market Place
FinTech Australia Talent Market

In response to the rapid escalation of job losses across the Aussie Fintech community Tier One People and FinTech Australia have joined forces to build a Talent Market Place, connecting Fintechers directly to opportunities.

The Market Place is a Private LinkedIn Group where founders and hiring managers can advertise jobs, put out requests for skills and engage talent for contracting.

It is totally free to join for talent and hirers. The only stipulations are you’re FinTech Australia member or you’ve recently been made redundant from a Fintech firm (Australian residents only.)

Who is the group for?

Those who have recently lost their job and are in the Fintech industry.

What’s the purpose?

To keep talent in the industry and connect immediately available talent with Fintech leaders who can utilise their skills.

Who should join?

People from the Australian Fintech industry and out of work.
We will post daily content, videos and Live chat sessions sharing tips and advice on how to maximise your job hunting efforts. You can connect with hirers direct, no recruitment agencies involved. It’s also a great platform to showcase your skills!

FinTech Australia members looking to hire people.

You can post active roles, project work, consulting gigs and engage with talent direct in the group.

David M Brear 11FS
11:FS And Tier One People

Our friends at 11:FS invited us onto their Breakfast Show LIVE to talk about the impacts of Corona Virus on the Fintech community.

Tier One People’s Dexter Cousins and 11:FS CEO David M. Brear talk about which companies will hire and fire.

Watch the video to find out our views on who will survive, who will thrive and how the current situation could actually be a golden opportunity for Fintech.

Fintech Community Talent Promotion
FinTech Australia Podcast

We are stoked to announce that FinTech Australia has entered into a partnership with Tier One People to act as the main sponsor of the Tier One People podcast.

Recognising the close alignment in our mission to make Australia the No1 country for Fintech innovation, it makes perfect sense to join forces.

So what does this mean for our listeners?

First off if you are subscribed on Spotify, iTunes or any other medium you don’t have to do a thing. The podcast is now available to download on the FinTech Australia site.

We are beefing up the show with professional production, a monthly news style show as well as coverage of events like The Finnies, Intersekt and Global Fintech events like Innovate Finance, Money 20/20 etc.

The Fintech Game Changers series of leadership interviews will continue and we will also run dedicated episodes on hiring and careers advice. Including a special show this week on setting up remote working.

And given that the biggest challenge facing any founder is people, hiring and talent – the content of the show will be educational as well as entertaining.

FinTech Australia Director, Simone Joyce had this to say about the partnership: 

I am so excited that this has come about. The partnership fast-forwards the reason we started the podcast in the first place. Which was to promote the Fintech ecosystem. Tier One People are doing that in spades and with flare.

The combined networks of Tier One People and FinTech Australia members amplifies the reach to a global audience giving our members maximum exposure. 

FIntech Jobs Report Tier One People
Fintech Jobs Report

Welcome To The Tier One People Fintech Jobs Report.

Sydney Advertises Four Hundred Fintech Jobs!

Developers and Engineers make up more than 50% of all jobs advertised in Australia.

On the face of it, the Sydney Fintech jobs market is going gangbusters compared to every other city with almost 400 advertised positions. But when we analysed the data from advertising platforms including Seek, Indeed, Glass Door, LinkedIn, the real story was nowhere near as impressive.

Find out which jobs are in demand, who is doing the hiring and how using recruiters could be doing your business more harm than good.

Matt Baxby Revolut CEO
Matt Baxby Revolut CEO

Revolut Appoint Matt Baxby CEO for Australia.

Revolut partnered exclusively with Tier One People to conduct the search and appointment of Matt Baxby as Australia Country CEO. Matt brings the perfect blend of Banking expertise and entrepreneurship, having worked under Sir Richard Branson at Virgin. We’ve known Matt since 2010 when he relaunched the Virgin Money Australia business, helping him build out the team back then.

The announcement came on the same day Revolut revealed their latest investment round of US $500m at a valuation of US $5.5bn.

When we first began talking to Revolut in May 2019, the business had 4 million accounts and 700 employees. Today the business has 10 million accounts and 2000 employees, almost trebling in size during the search and onboarding process!

You can read all about the plans for Australia and Revolut globally in this transparent interview with Tom Hambrett and Matt in the AFR

We would like to thank the team at Revolut for being an absolute dream to partner with. The Tier One People team were remotely embedded within the Revolut recruitment team based in Singapore throughout the whole process.

The transparency, collaboration and open communication channels made what could have easily been a highly complex search process run very smoothly.

The team at Tier One People wish Matt and Revolut every success and look forward to continuing the partnership.

Innovate Finance Global Summit 2020
Innovate Finance Global Summit 2020

Innovate Finance Global Summit 2020 kicks off in London on April 20 and Tier One People will be there. Dexter Cousins will be part of a Fintech Australia and UK Department of Industry and Trade delegation, on a mission to strengthen ties with the UK Fintech sector.

The delegation marks the second anniversary of the UK-Australia Fintech Bridge. And what better way to celebrate than attending the UK Fintech Industries main event of the year?

The UK-Australia Fintech Bridge launched in 2018 to support startups from Australia and the UK. In two years trade in both directions has increased. Tier One People have played a significant role in helping Fintech startups expand in Australia and the UK.

Want To Find The Best Talent In Fintech?

#Hiregamechangers

UK DIT Australian Fintech Bridge.

The Fintech Bridge plays a key role in helping UK Fintech successfully launch in Australia and Australian Fintech launch in Britain. And this years trade delegation provides an opportunity for Aussie founders to ‘plug-into’ the worlds leading Fintech ecosystem. 

It’s a chance to showcase the exciting innovations and opportunities in Australia to a global audience.

With Brexit now finally behind us, our UK cousins are not waiting to strike new trade agreements. Tier One People recently attended an invite-only round-table discussion with HRM Treasury, The Australian British Chamber of Commerce and Fintech leaders. 

Open Banking is generating lots of interest from UK Fintech and represents a HUGE opportunity for Australia if we can get it right. Approximately 40% of the Tier One People client base is now UK based.

It’s an honour to be invited by Fintech Australia and develop relationships with the UK Fintech sector. It is clear from our discussions with both Fintech Australia and UK DIT talent is a critical component of any trade agreement. 

Watch out for an exclusive Tier One People interview with Michael Ward, Deputy Trade Commissioner UK DIT

Are You Attending IFGS 2020?

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Innovate Finance Global Summit Agenda.

Monday, 20 April: IFGS 2020 Day 1

Tuesday, 21 April: IFGS 2020 Day 2

Wednesday, 22 April: International Day, run by Innovate Finance

Thursday, 23 April: Full day program, run by UK DIT (Scaleups only)

David M Brear 11FS
David M Brear 11:FS

“Good leaders really understand that it’s not about them. It’s about what they can do to get the best out of everybody else around them. “

 

David M Brear 11:FS

Exclusive Interview. Dexter Cousins chats to David M Brear CEO of 11:FS, the globally renowned Fintech and digital banking consultancy. Find out David’s secrets on leadership, attracting the very best talent and how to bootstrap a global business.

11:FS is much more than a Podcast. Can you explain the business model?

David: We’ve been up to a few things other than just hanging out with microphones and doing podcasts.

Over the last three and a bit years, we’ve built Mettle, a SME challenger bank with NatWest in the UK. In Hong Kong we’ve worked with WeLab and Standard Chartered and in Singapore we’ve worked with our good friends Grab. We’ve also worked with a number of different companies in South Africa and we are midway through building out a consumer bank in the US.

From an 11:FS perspective, we live by the mantra that digital financial services are only 1% finished. Our mission is to change the fabric of financial services. And we do that in many different ways.

On one side we have a consulting services business working with people around the planet, whether it’s regulators or banks or tech players or whoever wants to build out new green field propositions. We help to define strategy and move the ideas forward. 

On the other side, it’s about building products that actually solve problems we’ve had ourselves, whether it’s things like Pulse, a global benchmarking tool, or the blockers we’ve come up against for delivering truly digital services at speed and scale.

That directly led us to establish 11:FS Foundry, which is a digitally native approach to core banking with a full stack architecture.

What prompted you to start 11:FS?

David: Four years back we struck on a thesis that we are so early in the cycle of change. The promise of everything the Internet brings to an industry that fundamentally hasn’t changed for 300 years was nowhere near being realised.

Digital is really about using the power of data to create an ultra personalised experience with much better services and products. 

Unfortunately the way in which big banking organisations have implemented digital is more about taking people and paper out of the process. That’s digitisation, not digital.

The justification of every bank’s digital transformation had been cost driven. It has only been in the last few years where banks have realised they need to revolutionise their approach and provide better services and products. 

The change has predominantly been led through major changes globally, in the regulatory space and through competition. New players have come into the space, whether that be Fintech startups or Big Tech companies like Apple, and they are showing the banks that people just want better services.

We are just at the beginning of fundamental shifts in banking and financial services. 

How Did You Get the Business off the ground?

David: We’ve taken no money. From month three of founding the organisation we were profitable. This pre revenue nonsense is definitely not for me. I don’t think you can call it a business unless it makes profit and makes revenue. Call me old fashioned on that one. But for me, it’s all about creating something of value for people. And if you do that then you should be able to monetise it.  

There have been key moments where we have been very lucky and times when we have been ballsy. Episode One of Fintech Insider is an example. We had no listeners and no idea how we were editing the show, but managed to get a sponsor because they believed in what we were doing.

The first client of 11:FS Pulse was brought in as a partner before the product even existed. DNB invested in Foundry when it was no more than 11 slides.

We’ve been lucky to find people who believe in what we are doing, are probably as crazy as us and share the same vision, which is awesome. But ultimately our success comes down to creating things that are of great value to our clients.

You have an incredible line up of talent in the business, how have you attracted them to 11:FS? 

David: I’m 39 years old now. Entrepreneurs my age can attract the right talent more effectively than people who are starting out a lot younger.  You build up a network of people over your career where you think I don’t know when, but we’re gonna work together again.

I met Jason Bates (11:FS cofounder) back when he was at Starling, I was still at Gartner. I knew with Jason we’d work together at some point. Similar to Ryan Wareham, our COO. We worked really well together when I was at Lloyds Banking. 

You get a feel for people in terms of their unique strengths. If there is a pre existing relationship you already have an understanding of each other. From there you build a founding team.

Beyond that, I honestly think success is fundamentally about momentum. One success leads to another success, which over time creates a magnetic pull where you attract the right people. 

 

Have you found the Fintech Insider podcast is a good tool for talent attraction and bringing in new business?

David: Yeah, 100%. It’s crazy, we get hundreds of emails from people interested in working with us either as employees, partners or clients. At the beginning of the company you’re five people sitting around a table trying to figure out how you can compete with Accenture and McKinsey.

We couldn’t outspend them from a marketing perspective. So, we decided to out play them with brutal authenticity and a level of distribution that would create a fundamentally different way of engaging with our customer base. 

We set out asking;

‘How can we be authentic? How can we be provocative? How can we really establish human connections with the brand? ‘

David M. Brear 11:FS

Even now we could not reach the amount of people that we do with the level of content marketing that we put out using our competitors marketing approach. We have focused so much on brand narrative, it’s not about the products or services we offer. Our brand narrative is fundamentally about what we believe in and our values. 

When you align with people on your belief system or your aspiration about what the industry could be, then you find a higher level of connectivity that you can never achieve by sending out a bullshit brochure. 

 

What kind of team and culture are you building?

David: 11:FS is my first CEO role. I have worked for some really good CEOs and one or two really bad ones in the past. But I’ve probably learned more from the really bad CEOs, especially on what not to do when it comes building a winning culture!

The 11:FS culture is based on servant leadership. We are not a hierarchical company and believe bad and good ideas can come from anywhere. Whether it’s bad ideas coming from the very top or good ideas coming from anybody across the organisation.

Trust is a huge thing from my perspective as a leader. If you have 360 degree trust of your people in the business then there is a positive intent running through the whole company. 

When it comes to leadership I don’t consider myself a businessman. I’m more of a sports guy. So, I always look to bring the same mentality of a very successful sports team into the 11:FS team culture.

I think there’s an honesty to sports that is often very much missing within the business world. Transparency and accountability are key to a sports team.

If somebody’s playing badly on the team, they know and you know really quickly. There is nowhere to hide, but as a sports team you’ll do everything you can to increase the productivity of the team and increase the impact you can make from an individual perspective.

With sports teams it is as much about psychology as it is physiology. And I think that is missing in the business world. 

How do you motivate the team?

Good leaders really understand that it’s not really about them. It’s about what they can do to get the best out of everybody else around them.

Whether it’s creating a sense of urgency, whether it’s creating a vision and reinforcing it until the goal is reached, whether it’s giving people a level of motivation to run through walls they wouldn’t have tried to do before. 

In big organisations leadership stops being about getting the best out of the people and focuses on managing the board or managing a group of shareholders.

And that’s where I think you start to see a significant drop in the productivity of people within an organisation. And unfortunately, it’s where you start to see an almost unrecoverable position from a cultural perspective.

 

 

Singapore Fintech Festival

“The Singapore Fintech Festival confirms Asia as a huge opportunity and one Australian Fintech Startups simply cannot afford to ignore any longer.”

Tier One People Founder, Dexter Cousins shares his highlights from the Singapore Fintech Festival 11th – 15th November 2019.

It was MASSIVE. Over 60,000 participants from more than 130 countries were represented at this year’s SFF x SWITCH. Spanning 6 halls and hosting over 1,000 exhibitors, the event aims to be the largest FinTech event in the world. Job done I’d say!

Singapore Fintech Festival – The Vision.

In 2015, the Monetary Authority of Singapore started working closely with the FinTech community to develop a strong ecosystem centred on collaboration and innovation. Singapore has set a goal to become the world’s first Smart City State with the ultimate goal of improving people’s lives.

It’s a holistic approach to innovation that incorporates Fintech, Clean Energy, IOT, Transportation, Payments, Digital ID, AI and anything else you can think of that goes into making a smart city. The Singaporean Government has dedicated over $1bn in funding in 2019 alone. Singapore is pulling out all of the stops and taking massive action.


The Singapore Fintech Ecosystem Since 2015:

1. Less than 50 start-ups in 2015 to over 600 in 2019

2. 5 to over 40 innovation labs

3. Creation of over 1,100 FinTech jobs each year

4. More than S$1 billion investments in FinTech companies


Every Tech Company Is A Fintech.


There’s great opportunity in esports and fintech: Razer CEO from CNBC.

My biggest eye opener was meeting the people at Razer the online gaming company. Razer build gaming computers, accessories and have a huge gaming community across the US, Europe and Asia. Fintech is their next logical step where they aim to offer gamers tailored financial services and payments.

My other highlights included catching up with the Revolut team and meeting the Founder Nik Storonsky. I used my Revolut card on this trip for all transactions and I am blown away by how good the product is and how much money I saved! It literally has Revolutionised travel for me.

Uber famously disrupted the taxi industry and in big news recently, Uber and Google are planning to enter the banking space. This is already happening in Asia, while the Fintech industry in Aus has looked to Silicon Valley and Shoreditch for innovation maybe Singapore is the place we should be drawing inspiration from.

Grab, which is like Uber but on steroids made my trip super easy. From one app I could book rides, order food, have gifts collected from a store and dropped at my hotel, book a hotel and more. With an in built loyalty program, instant payments for drivers and a micro insurance policy for drivers Grab already does what Uber plans to do.


Banking as a Service.

Westpac announced their partnership with Tier One People’s newest client 10x Future Technologies. This is the most significant play yet as open banking finally becomes a reality in Australia. Needless to say we are very happy to be supporting such a ground breaking client and partnership.

Engineers – Want To Work At 10x?

[email protected]

BaaS was very much the key theme at Singapore Fintech Festival. I had some very interesting chats with tech platforms that are essentially the plumbing for banking. What does this mean? More consolidation of banks in the future and less likely more competition. If Westpac partners with Google for example, I can see mid-tier banks having to consolidate in order to survive. Is BaaS an opportunity for Aussie Neo Banks like Volt, Xinja and Douugh to partner with banks, on an international scale?

The Singapore Fintech Festival Parties!

Jeez, the Fintech community knows how to host a party. Thanks to Rapyd, R3, GPS, Revolut, Visa, Standard Chartered and everyone else who held get together’s for the community.

My highlights were a really intimate get together Paul Kang organised where Australia’s very own Minster for Fintech, Jane Hume came along. I love the energy Senator Hume has for Fintech and she deserves more backing than what I could see was on offer from the Australian Government.

And I doubt I can forget an epic night eating Satay at a Hawker restaurant with the Standard Chartered innovation team and Fintech Australia’s founding CEO Danielle Szetho – Happy days/nights!

Should I Go To SFFX 2020?

Hell, Yes!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Asia is a huge opportunity and one Australian Fintech simply cannot afford to ignore any longer.

Discover Your Next Challenge.

https://tieronepeople.com/jobs-in-fintech/

Intersekt 2019 – Fintech Australia

October 15th – 17th Melbourne. Intersekt 2019, Fintech Australia’s annual gathering took place. Tier One People Founder, Dexter Cousins shares the highlights of an outstanding event.

Fintech Australia.

Wow! What an event. What a team. 

Complimenting the team at Fintech Australia was our favourite MC and great friend Ghela Bhoskovich, Intersekt19 felt more like a celebration than a conference and there was a lot to celebrate.

Fintech in Australia has become a significant industry, with its own Minister it is a multi-billion dollar sector. While previous Intersekt events were great fun, some of us were secretly wondering whether we were drinking the Koolade. Exactly one year ago at Sibos 2018 I talked about the rise of Australian Fintech. The growth and progress we’ve seen in the last 12 months is phenomenal.

A year ago Fintech Australia were facing significant challenges and from the outside, things did not look promising. So, I’m in awe at how quickly the entire team at Fintech Australia has not only got the organisation back on track, but taken it to new heights. 

If ever there’s a Phoenix from the flames story, Fintech Australia is it. 

So, it was fitting that the VIP Speakers Dinner was the pinnacle of Intersekt for me. To finally meet so many people in the global Tier One People network and celebrate together was an unforgettable experience. There is an elevated feeling of community and kinship in Fintech I have not experienced in any other industry and it was heaps of fun. Fintech brings together a really special group of people.

And on that note I have to say a special well done to Rebecca Schot-Guppy for her dedication, commitment and relentless passion in making Intersekt and Fintech Australia what it is today.


Open Banking Could Be Huge For The Australian Economy.

A record number of international businesses were at this years Intersekt. Revolut, Klarna, Tink, True Layer were just a few whom we connected with. 

So, what is making Australia so attractive to international Fintech?

Hats off to the Government for such an ambitious Consumer Data Right initiative. While the UK is ahead on Open Banking, Australia’s strategy is much broader with greater potential for innovation. 

A similar demographic, geographic proximity to Asia and highly profitable banks with a burning platform for change are just some of the reasons for the foreign influx.

A lot of credit has to go to Vic Gov and the UK DIT who work so well together on the UK/Aus Fintech Bridge. Tess Thomas and the team have achieved a huge amount in the past 12 months. Vic Gov are doing everything in their power to make Melbourne the home of Australian Fintech. And they are attracting Fintech giants like Revolut, Stripe, Square and promising startups like True Layer.

The EY/Fintech Australia Census.

FinTech Australia and EY launched the FinTech Australia Census 2019 at Intersekt. It is a study designed to profile and define the industry, identify inherent challenges and provide insights. Meredith Agnew, Partner Fintech for EY presented the latest findings – Download The Report


Podcast – Hiring For Fintech.

The previous day I recorded a Podcast with Duncan Currie, host of the Fintech Growth Podcast and Founder of Stage 3.

Coincidentally (or maybe not) many of the challenges founders have highlighted in the Census we cover in great detail in this podcast on hiring. Including the No1 challenge to come out of the research, Product/Market Fit.

It’s worth a listen as I share some useful tips and insights on attracting talent. If you are Fintech leader or even if you are remotely interested in Fintech you need to subscribe to Duncan’s podcast. He’s a TOP man.


The Speakers.

It was an excellent line up with AirWallex, AfterPay, Revolut, Klarna, Tink, Xinja, Up, Volt Bank, Prospa all sharing their views on growth and opportunities.

I have to confess, I had so many meetings I missed many of the panel sessions. Here are the sessions I couldn’t miss.

Shayne Elliot, CEO of ANZ in a candid Fireside chat with Alan Tsen, Chair of Fintech Australia.

Shayne Elliot – ANZ.

For a Big 4 bank CEO, Shayne Elliot is so candid when he chats which is refreshing. I am still not filled with confidence that the Big 4 banks are changing fast enough. The wash out from the Royal Commission has done little other than force investment in compliance which is hampering the ability to innovate. 

When asked what he would focus on if he were to launch a Fintech, Shayne Elliott came straight out with SME banking (not just lending). He took a side swipe at the success of SME lenders who are supporting the very customers the big banks continue to ignore. As CEO of one of the worlds most profitable banks surely you’re in a much stronger position to support small businesses than a couple of young guys in Surry Hills!?

Open Banking seems to be an unwanted distraction and while the right things are being said, the actions (or lack of) coming from the Big 4 suggests there’s a reluctance to progress.

Dom Pym – Up Bank.

I call Dom “The Steve Jobs of Australian Banking” so it was great to see him on stage twice!

Dom has a knack of cutting-through the noise and honing in on the real problems in banking. His style may not be to everyone’s liking, I think the man is a genius and the approach of Up Bank “Tech led Banking” is delivering an amazing product that customers love. Dom has built possibly the best tech team in Fintech outside of eastern europe. 

My favourite quote from the whole event:

“I don’t think we should go slowly. I think it’s pretty simple. It’s said in the acronym ‘CDR’: consumer data right. It’s pretty obvious what it is,” 

“The mind shift that needs to happen here…is that the consumers own that data. They have the right to do what they want with it, and they’re the ones that control it, not the organisations that are currently the custodians of that data.”

Dom Pym Co-Founder of Up Bank.

Anthony Nantes – Wisr.

Anthony is one of the most promising CEO’s in Australia. His presentation was that good he literally had people queuing up asking for a job! Anthony presented on one of our key observations, the evolution to Fintech 2.0 and how Wisr are working to help Australians get out of debt and manage their wealth. 


Networking.

Thanks to everyone who came up and said ‘Hi’ at the event. I am blown away by the compliments, well wishes and support of you all. When I launched Tier One back in 2016, it was with a vision to become the leading brand for recruitment in Fintech. 

It feels like the vision is becoming a reality based on your feedback, introductions and support we received over the three days. I can’t thank you all enough.

We’ll be making some major announcements soon on new clients and exciting opportunities.

Should you go to Intersekt20?

If you are in Fintech, Banking or Financial Services and want to make some serious business connections Intersekt is the must attend event for Australia. Like Sibos 2018, there is real intent at the event for business to be done and key decision makers, investors and government are available and willing to talk.

#HireGameChangers.

We bring together the people to build, grow and scale next generation Fintech.

Robert Bell 86 400
Robert Bell 86 400

“Our core company value is to help Australian’s take control of their money. So the 86 400 team have designed and built a smartbank that helps Australian’s take control of their money.”

Robert Bell, CEO, 86 400.

Robert, how did you get to build Australia’s first smartbank?

I am a banker by background, I spent 15 years with one of Australia’s Big 4 banks and was given the opportunity to run banks in the Pacific and Japan. I came back to Australia to run a mid- sized mutual bank, and immediately before starting 86 400, worked for Cuscal (100% shareholder of 86 400).

Cuscal has an impressive track record of enabling competition through innovation and technology. They are an early adopter and one of the key founders of the new payments platform. While the big  four banks are going very slow rolling out NPP, Cuscal quietly launched more than 40 financial institutions on day one, and did the same with Apple Pay.

Cuscal could see the trends overseas in terms of digital banks and spent a couple years researching international markets. We looked at bringing some of those models to Australia and decided to build a digital bank ourselves. I was involved in the original business case and then moved into the CEO role once Cuscal decided to move ahead with 86 400.

What has the journey been like so far?

Crazy busy!

But there is no other job I’d want, anywhere else in the world than the one I have right now. Building a full bank from scratch is incredibly challenging and exciting. We’ve gone through the process of getting a full banking license and now we are live. It has been an incredible journey so far and an amazing two years. 

Working with our Chairman, Anthony Thomson is an unbeatable learning experience and I am supported by an amazing group of people. We’ve gone from 8 people on day one to now just over 90 people. 

You spent two years building the bank. Now that you are live does it feel like a different business?

The reality is that the build will never be finished. The big difference between 86 400 and incumbent bank is the build. We have daily live releases and new updates to the App every four or five days at the moment. So the product is never going to be finished, we are constantly building. 

But it is very exciting to be live with the product and finally putting it into customers hands. We think 86 400 is a really strong day one offering to customers, but we intend to improve. We have made it our mission to help Australian’s take control of their finances.

Australian’s seem spoilt for choice with new NeoBanks. What distinguishes 86 400 from other NeoBanks? 

I think that’s perhaps the wrong question to ask. The big four banks currently own 85% of the market so we are entirely focused on providing a product that offers a better experience, service and value than the big four banks.

That is the market we want to go after. We see the Big Four as the competition not NeoBanks. 

8 million Australian’s currently bank using their smartphone. Of that 8 million 86 400 is focused on the 25 to 45 year age group (4.6 million) but our youngest customer is 16 and our oldest is 88!

We are giving customers something entirely different, smart banking.

#UnleashYourPotential

Work With The World’s Most Innovative Fintech

What is a smartbank?

Before launching 86 400 an enormous amount of research was conducted over two years to unearth and understand the real problem in banking.
People naturally point to the Royal Commission and highlight trust as the problem. Trust is massively important but the real problem we see is this;

Money and our finances are becoming very difficult to manage.

More than 65% of Australians have a relationship with multiple banks. Today we have more money coming in and out of our bank accounts than ever before, which we never see, subscriptions, direct debits and we tap our card or phone more than ever.

It is like money has become invisible. People feel like they are not in control of their spending, making them increasingly anxious about money. 

Our core company value is to help Australian’s take control of their money. So the 86 400 team have designed and built a smartbank that helps Australians take control of their money.

A smartbank is a very different premise and value proposition to the large incumbent banks. 100% cloud based technology, purpose built for people who use their smartphone for everything, banking, payments, applying for a loan etc. 

One of 86 400’s unique features is the ability to link up to 150 other different banks to the App and view your credit card, transaction accounts, savings accounts, personal loans etc. You can see all your finances in one place. It gives customers immediate value when they join 86 400.

That’s what we think will help us compete against the big four banks.

We are extremely happy with the early feedback. There are two measures we are focused on right now and the initial response is very encouraging;

Are customers happy with the product?

And are customers happy to tell other people about the product?

Robert Bell 86 400 Tier One People Interview

Will Open Banking give 86 400 a competitive edge?

We believe that customers should own their data and if a company does hold data it should be used to the customers advantage, not just to sell more products.

Banking has always been focused on the past. A bank statement records what you have already spent, it is too late to do anything about it once you get the statement.  Even with today’s banking apps customers see their statement now, but they are still looking backwards.

Once a customer links all of their bank accounts with 86 400, smart algorithms predict what bills are coming up in each separate account. That’s a massive difference to what we see anyone else is offering in the market and the feature is resonating extremely well with our early customers.

It takes 120 seconds to open an account. You sign up and get immediate value. This is just a small example of what customers can expect from us when open banking really gets going. 

86 400 is one of only two banks to be chosen for the Open Banking pilot program. We are very excited and consider it a huge privilege to play such an important role influencing the future of Australia’s banking industry for the betterment of customers.

But we are not naive, there is a long road ahead and there will be challenges along the way. Not everyone has bought into the benefits of open banking and we are already seeing some resistance as Cuscal witnessed when rolling out NPP.

#FintechPodcast

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How is the team structured?

In total there over 90 staff. Roughly 50% of the team are tech people. Developers, Engineers, Designers, UX and Data Scientists. As a fully licensed bank we have risk, finance and credit functions. The homeloans business is about to go live to the public so we have a full team in that business unit.

The entire team is a mix of highly experienced bankers and highly experienced tech people. We only employ people who are digital natives and passionate about technology. We don’t expect a 30 year banking veteran to become a developer, but you have to be comfortable using technology and be passionate about what technology can do to revolutionise the banking industry. 

What qualities do you look for in people?

Our core company value is to help Australian’s take control of their money. And that principle determines not only the product we are building but the culture we are creating too. Thousands of people reach out to me and the team asking about career opportunities with 86 400.

The first thing we look for are people who can actually do the work themselves. There isn’t the luxury of hiring people whose unique skill is to run a team or focus solely on strategy. We need leaders who can be strategic and actually do the work required to deliver. I appreciate we are looking for a very unique person and skillset.

86 400 operates an Agile environment with a fortnightly showcase where our people stand up and share what they have delivered in the last two weeks. That can be frightening to some people coming straight from a big bank environment. But it’s highly exhilarating for the people we seek to employ, because they get to build stuff without the blockers you get in large organisations.

How have you hired and retained the right talent?

We have a dedicated HR team which is a big help. It’s a very exciting time to be in the industry. Our people are genuinely passionate about changing banking for the good of customers. 86 400 is small, we have a very flat structure so there is much greater ability to influence outcomes for those who are prepared to roll up their sleeves and Get Things Done.

We are a technology business first. But right now we don’t have the room for bean bags and a table tennis table. We don’t see the need for an innovation hub because if the innovation isn’t happening around the boardroom, then 86 400 has a BIG problem.

It is reassuring for me as CEO to see the team stay here because they feel the work they are doing is important and has meaning. And not stay here because we have beer pumps and table tennis. The whole team shows enormous pride in the work they are doing. 

Success is celebrated as a team. When the first home loan was finalised, when we got our license, when we went live with the core banking system, when the first card transaction with an ATM happened. All of these milestones have been celebrated as a team. 

There will be lots more to celebrate over the next few months. The homeloans product goes live to the public soon. The biggest celebration for me is the feedback we get from customers every day. It’s so rewarding to know that 86 400 is truly delivering on our core principle of helping Australian’s take control of their money.

Dom Pym – Up Bank

“The Up website has the word banking crossed out on the home page, and we’ve replaced it with living. Banking is really just an invisible utility, something in the background supporting your life and not getting in the way.”

Dominic Pym. Co-Founder, UP Bank.

Dom is an entrepreneur and technologist who recently launched Up (up.com.au), a next-generation Australian digital bank delivering super powered banking. Up is a clever way to organise your money and simplify your life, giving you the freedom to do the things you love. Dom’s been involved in software, web and mobile development for over 20 years from start-ups to global enterprises in Australia, the UK, the USA and throughout Asia.

Tier One People CEO, Dexter Cousins spent the afternoon at UP Bank HQ in May 2019. The interview with Dom is the longest one we have ever published but filled with amazing insights and strategies. It is almost like a playbook for building a digital bank. Enjoy!

 


 

How Did Up Start?

 

The idea for Up was born out of frustration. We’re essentially a team of designers and engineers, so we approach problem solving with software solutions. I was also a software developer years ago and, as an entrepreneur, I generally try to solve everyday problems for me personally, for my family, for my mates, etc. Sometimes the solutions turn into businesses. The story of Up goes back about 5 years. Actually, probably even before that. My business partner, Grant Thomas and I run a software company called Ferocia. About 8 years ago we were looking for our next business opportunity and were thinking about raising some capital. We met a few people, and one day we got talking to the CEO of Bendigo Bank at the time. He asked if we could apply our technology expertise to banking, and we thought “why not?”.

They were looking for a new mobile banking platform, so we did a proof of concept which went really well, and then we ended up building the mobile and desktop banking platform that Bendigo customers use today. That’s how the relationship with Bendigo got started.

The platform was actually a huge success. We won multiple awards, pretty much #1 or #2 mobile banking platform in Australia every year for the last 4 years. But nobody knew it was built by Ferocia, people just assumed Bendigo built the platform themselves. The success of the Bendigo mobile banking platform led to work with one of the four major Australian banks.

 

 


 

 


 

Why Go With Bendigo For UP? Why Not A Big 4 Bank?

We worked on a project in Asia with a Big 4 Bank, to build a digital bank across 10 countries. From the time we first met them, to the time we finished up on the project we spent about two and a half years and it never got into a customers’ hands.

We worked with people from San Francisco, Hong Kong and Singapore, and spent a lot of time traveling. Then a new CEO arrived at the bank, and the strategy changed so their Asian business was dialled back, and the digital banking project was scrapped. I remember it was a Friday when we found out, because we had an important meeting with the banks head of International Business the following Monday, but the whole thing was shut down and the meeting never happened.

It’s a shame because Ferocia had dedicated about two and a half years of time, people, and energy into it. It could have been one of the earliest digital banks in the world, which would have been awesome.

What happened next was a reshuffle of the executives we worked with on the Asian digital bank. Some of them moved to the other Big Four banks. One of them, who was originally the sponsor of the project, called us up and asked if we wanted to work with them on a new digital bank for Australia.

So, Ferocia spent about 18 months working on that project in Sydney. Again, the product never got into customer’s hands, which was pretty disappointing. They decided to fund their internal core systems upgrade instead.

By this stage we’d spent about four years or so building digital banking technology and had developed a deep understanding of the banking sector, particularly in Australia, along the way but we never got to see any of our products in customers hands. As you can imagine, being a team of over achievers, we were deeply frustrated.

 

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Building A Digital Bank Isn’t Easy.

It seems to me like Australians generally have an aptitude for innovation, coupled with a deep-seeded frustration with banking. I think that’s why the first digital bank in the world, Simple, was started by an Aussie (Joshua Reich). Back in those days, another Aussie Brett King was also working on a digital bank called Moven (also in the US).

We were pretty inspired by what Josh had built, and a little disappointed Simple sold out to BBVA (a large Spanish bank). We actually met with Shamir (one of the Simple co-founders) and Brett King in Boston around mid-2014 and chatted with them about their experiences. At the time I remember thinking we should just build our own digital bank here in Australia.

Eventually we said, “Stuff it. Let’s do it.” There was just a few small problems like raising $100+ million, getting a core banking system up-and-running, and having a banking license! Not impossible, but pretty unlikely. Back in 2016, the Restricted Authorised Deposit-taking Institution banking licenses (RADIs) did not yet exist.

So we decided to go down a different path, and try to find the right relationship with an existing bank. Originally we’d thought that one of the majors might be interested, but we were pretty jaded by our previous experiences working with them. Bendigo bank was an easier conversation, since we had worked with them for more than 5 years and developed a lot of trust between us.

We learnt pretty quickly that you can’t just borrow a banking license! We spent about 12 months putting the legal structures and contracts in place, and in October 2017 Up went into production, as Australia’s first cloud hosted retail bank, on the Google Cloud Platform.

We ran Up for a year, initially trialling the platform with Ferocia staff, then we added Bendigo staff. Next, we extended the trial to family and friends, and then a small beta testing group. We ran a private invitation-only beta, and then a public beta with about 2,500 people in total. During that year we worked closely with Bendigo (and other stakeholders) to address regulation, compliance, risk, security, cloud hosting, etc before the official public launch of Up in October 2018.

 


 

 


 

How Successful Has Up Been Since Launching?

By February 2019 Up announced we had over 50,000 accounts and over 30,000 customers (some people open multiple accounts). At the time we were growing at between 500-1000 new customers per day.

We had anticipated decent traction, being the first to market and having the power of Bendigo behind Up, but the growth was still pretty amazing. It sort of went up from there…by May, just 8 months from public launch, we announced over 100,000 customers and were signing up over 1,000 customers per day.

It has been a pretty amazing ride so far. Up was top 10 in the App Store and Google Play store for finance apps in Australia for around 6 months. In early 2019 we did some benchmarking against other Australia’s banks, using publicly available information, and the data indicated Up was Australia’s second fastest growing bank at the time, behind CBA.

Which is pretty amazing, and meant we had overtaken the likes of ANZ, NAB, Westpac, ING, and Macquarie in terms of new customer acquisitions. This is around the time of year when ING announced record numbers in customer acquisitions, something like a 47% increase over the prior year.

So, you could say it’s going ok. Very well in fact!

 


 

What Is Your Secret To Such Rapid Growth?

That’s the secret sauce everyone is looking for. How do you get rapid growth and brand recognition, without spending a truck load on marketing, advertising, and promotion?

The broad growth strategy for new market entrants in banking has been proven with other digital banks around the world. Word of mouth, a strong referral network, and happy customers are the key channels for growth. Excellence in everything we do should not be underestimated.

Up delivers an awesome customer experience (both digital and physical), has great banking products in marketing that are competitively priced, we’re moving very fast with excellent technology and security, we provide almost instant in-app customer support with excellent customer service, and we have great branding and marketing. It’s the combination of all these things that makes Up a success. Not just one thing.

 

Twitter in particular is an amazing tool for growth and we’ve hardly spent a cent on advertising on the platform. ”

Dominic Pym. Co-Founder, UP Bank.

 

The Up Playbook – Growth Hacking For Digital Banks.

 

There’s been minimal paid digital promotion on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Google and so on. Social media is a very successful channel for us. It’s not so much that we are just spending money on advertising to potential customers.

That simply doesn’t work, especially for banks. We use social to communicate with customers, and then when they see a recommendation from one of their friends, or some advertising we’re running, it hits home. In our experience, that combination is much better than advertising alone.

Twitter is a fantastic tool to communicate with our customers. Not just me, but also our Head of Product, Head of Technology, Head of Design and the rest of the team are active on Twitter and other social media platforms.

But we certainly use it to respond to our customers and engage with them almost instantly every day. Having direct conversations with customers is amazing. It’s an education in itself, and worth more than any survey or focus group could ever hope to deliver. A tight feedback loop with customers is critical for any successful technology company.

With Facebook, we did spend some money, and we were able to acquire customers. You wouldn’t think a bank could acquire customers through Facebook, Snapchat, or Instagram. Well. Up does. It’s amazing that someone can get a message from their friend or see an Up ad on Facebook, then download the Up app and be set up in less than 3 minutes.

Sure, it sounds surreal, but it’s happening every day, hundreds and hundreds of times. We ran some pretty basic digital promotions, and combined with the high level of engagement and excellent design it kind of created a viral effect.

It‘s also been fascinating to watch people engage differently on each social media channel. On Facebook, for example, tens of thousands of people write about Up to their mates. They simply tag their friends in a post, and it’s like an endorsement that goes viral. With social media, we’ve been able to acquire a thousand customers a day, through a single social channel without doing anything much, simply because of the strength of the Up brand.

People love it. How many people in the world wear t-shirts, hats, badges, stickers, and merchandise for their bank? You don’t really see that too often in banking. But we get Up customers asking us every single day for merch through Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

 


 

How To Nail Experiential Marketing.

Experiential promotion and marketing has worked really well for us too. We’ll do industry events of course, like the Fintech Summit and Intersekt, where we might do a panel or a keynote or whatever. But we’ve actually had the most success with specific niche events.

For example, we’ve participated in university events, the Australian Graphic Design Association industry awards, and Pause (business and design) Festival in Melbourne. Probably our most successful event was PAX, which is a computer gaming event where they have 100,000 or so people attend over 3 days. We missed Sibos, because we were too busy doing PAX!

We decided rather than attend another industry event like Money 2020 or Sibos we would try a gaming event. PAX is actually the world’s biggest gaming conference. People dress up as their favourite video game character and play video games.

You wouldn’t think a bank would be there, but we were signing new accounts on the spot, giving away t-shirts, hats, and other merchandise. One of the things at PAX that really drove new customer sign-ups was challenging people to a game of Mario Kart!

 


 

The Up Team Challenging Customers To A Game Of Mario Kart!

 


The Up dev team built software to track each Mario Kart game and display the results on a real-time leader board. We love it, and obviously so do the people attending PAX. They could compete against the Up development team, and also each other. It was a big hit. We even had the Mario Kart world champion come and take part in the challenge. Two of our developers actually snuck in a couple of wins, but he beat them overall of course.

It was a fantastic event just to be part of, and winning new customers for Up was a bonus. Within a few days some of the those 100,000 passionate gamers not only knew about Up, they had played a game of Mario Kart with a co-founder, or our Head of Design, our Head of Technology, or one of the other developers from our team who built Up and Kartalytics. They became advocates, and recommended Up to their friends.

In my view, everyone at PAX who met us now thinks of Up as a totally different digital bank that lives in their world, in their community, not just a brand sponsoring an event.

We met one guy at PAX who used Up’s round-up feature to save up for his PAX ticket. It’s such a beautiful story. Here was someone passionate about gaming, using Up to realise their dream of attending the world’s biggest gaming event, and then meeting the Up team at PAX and challenging us to a game of Mario Kart while he was there.

It was kind of surreal, and we were so proud to have helped him, even in this small way.

 


 

Discover The Latest Opportunities In Fintech.

 


 

Tell Me More About The Team At Up.

When we launched Up we had just 29 people working full-time at Ferocia.

It’s always been a goal of ours to remain small and agile. Up is designed and developed by Ferocia, which is a nimble team of like-minded people headquartered in South Melbourne. We’re more like a family than a team. We set out to be the first in the world to launch a fully licensed and functional digital bank with less than 30 people. It’s amazing what the team has achieved, and of course we’ve had a great deal of help from our mates at Bendigo. We simply couldn’t have done it without them.

Compared to other overseas digital banks (like Monzo, Revolut, N26, Starling, and Simple for example), we’ve managed to remain quite small, while these companies all have hundreds of staff. Up was built on the hypothesis we could leverage technology and automation to deliver a digital bank with less than 30 people.

Of course, we can’t remain less than 30 people forever, but if we could, that would be awesome. Right now it’s about 10 months since Up’s public launch and we have added 6 people to our customer support crew and a few more engineers, so we’re now 37 people at Ferocia. Not too shabby. Especially considering we’re still building Australia’s fifth largest banking platform, and Australia’s first and largest mobile-only digital bank at the same time!

 


 

How Do You Describe The Culture Of Up?

People really are the secret to the success of Up. The culture, the family that we’ve created, the way that we bounce off each other, the way we work together, the way we collaborate and help each other, it’s the reason for the success of Up. And that extends to the relationship with Bendigo. They’ve been amazing. Just think about it for a minute. Bendigo is the fifth largest bank in Australia and they had the bravery to back Ferocia, to partner with us to deliver Up.

It’s a pretty incredible move for a major Australian bank to collaborate with a fintech and actually make it work. Nearly 2 years later, since we started the Up journey together, we’re still the only neobank that’s actually launched in Australia with licensed banking products and we now have over 100,000 customers. Turns out the collaboration was a great way to kick things off for Up, and a much better way to get to market quickly, compared to getting our own banking license.

 


 

Up Bank Launch
Anson Parker, Head Of Product is just one of the amazingly talented team at UP Bank.

 


 

How Do You Attract The Right Talent?

I think success in terms of our people can be distilled down to culture and recruitment. The way we hire people and the calibre of people we hire is key. We place a huge emphasis on skills within the team. Everybody is multi-talented. No-one is just doing a single specific role (like is often the case in larger teams).

We look for people with an inherent ability to learn on the job, and we aim to have several people who can perform each role. So when people are sick, or on leave, or when we lose a staff member, we can still deliver. This is mostly an engineering outcome (since we are mostly engineers) but it needs to apply equally across marketing, risk, security, compliance, technology, operations, cloud hosting, etc. for the team to remain small and succeed.

Every outcome we need to deliver for our customers should be able to be met by not just one or two or three people, but by as many people in the team as possible. I’m not saying that’s easy to achieve, but it’s certainly a hallmark of high performance teams.

Most of the team currently has one degree of separation. Generally speaking, most everyone that works here has worked with at least one team member before. We’ve got 10 people who’ve worked at Ferocia for more than five years, and five people who’ve worked with us at Ferocia and in other companies beforehand for more than 10 years.

Then there’s also the people we’ve worked with in the past who keep in touch. One person recently came back to work with us. He left our team almost 10 years ago to join Square in San Francisco. He’s been working there since then, and worked his way up to be Director of Payments Engineering . He recently moved back to Australia and came back on-board with our team (now at Ferocia obviously), which is awesome.

I’d like to think this speaks to the culture we’ve developed at Ferocia (and for Up more broadly), and says a lot about the calibre of the engineering team for someone like him to want to come back to Melbourne and work with us all again.

 

“It pays to treat people with mutual respect and help them throughout their life, not just because they are employees but because it’s the decent thing to do.”

Dominic Pym. Co-Founder, UP Bank.

 

You Won “Best Bank Collaboration” At This Year’s Finnies. What Do You Think Is The Best Approach To Building A Digital Bank?

Up is delivered through a collaboration between our technology company (Ferocia) and a licensed Australian bank (Bendigo and Adelaide Bank). Working with an existing bank to develop new financial products is not generally an easy process, but it has worked a few times before.

For example, when we looked at other digital banks like Simple in the US, they launched quickly through a partnership with BankCorp. But when BBVA bought Simple they spent the next couple of years transitioning core banking systems and didn’t really appear (from the outside) to be able to innovate or create new product.

Monzo also partnered with Wirecard when they first started, then when they received their own banking license they built their own core banking system. This seems like a smart move (again from the outside looking in). Certainly they were able to exert more control over system reliability, capability and upgrades by bringing the core system in-house. This is quite a different strategy than buying or licensing a core banking system. Building one in-house affords many advantages, and also many challenges.

 


 

What would you do differently next time around?

We believe Up has a strategic and competitive advantage by not having to build our own core banking system in the first instance, and certainly we were able to get to market quicker than anyone else in Australia has been able to, due to the collaboration between Bendigo and Ferocia.

That said, if we had our time again, we’d still partner with Bendigo for access to the licensed financial products, but we might want to build our own core banking system too. And that’s purely because of the amount of effort involved in building product in a legacy core banking system. In our view, a core banking system should essentially be a database of debits and credits. If you treat it in that way, innovation is possible outside of the core system, and the core system can be used solely as a regulatory ledger.

We also move a lot faster than anyone (other than us) thought was possible. We currently average more than 5 customer deployments (software updates) per day. That’s incredible for any technology company, and even more so for a bank. Nonetheless, I think we would still seriously consider building a core banking system if we had to start all over again.

 

We often hear people in the banking industry (including our competitors) saying, “you can’t build a digital bank on top of legacy systems”. Well you can, and we’ve done it.

Dominic Pym – Co-Founder UP Bank

 

Is Your Model Similar To That Of Apple And Goldman Sachs?

 

People have commented that the Apple Card app has similar functionality to Up. I find it quite flattering that the greatest technology and innovation company ever is following in our footsteps! I say that a little tongue in cheek. We obviously work closely with Apple here in Australia and have done a lot of first-mover stuff with them here, including instant in-app issuance of Apple Pay, proximity set up for Apple Watch, push notifications with merchant identification, Siri voice control, and more.

I would say the model Apple has chosen, in partnering with Goldman Sachs, is similar to the Up model where Ferocia (a tech company) partnered with Bendigo (a bank) to deliver Up. Apple is certainly a technology company delivering a superior customer experience, and from what I can tell they seem pretty happy leaving the utility banking stuff to Goldmans.

It’s all about the customer experience and excellence in the delivery of customer service, and we all know that Apple leads the world in doing just that. Even if the interest rate is not attractive (which it’s not), it doesn’t really matter, it’s going to be the easiest card in the world to use and that’s what matters.

Neobanks all over the world are selling financial services in pretty much the same way every bank has done for over 100 years. Create a financial product, price it, then sell it to consumers through “channels” (digital or otherwise). What consumers really want, in our view, are products to power their lives. They don’t want to be sold more banking products, that’s the last thing anyone wants.

Let’s say you want to buy a car, for example. Do customers care if there’s a savings product, an insurance product, a loan product, and a transaction account all powering that service? Or do they care about the experience? Apple will totally nail the customer experience.

 

I’m happy to go on record saying that Apple has the platform and the ability to acquire more customers than any bank in history, ever.

Dominic Pym. Co-Founder, UP Bank.

The interest rate on the Apple Card may be high, but customers might not even pay interest, if the service helps them pay off the debt within the interest free period. Anyone in banking who thinks that Apple Card won’t make an impact because it’s “just a credit card geared to millennials” is perhaps naive and missing the point.

The experience Apple delivers is the real threat to the way people bank, which in essence is banking reimagined. That will most certainly have an impact on the banking sector and consumer expectations from banks, particularly the quality of their digital experience.

 


 

Do You Class Up As A Bank Or A Technology Firm?

From day one Up has positioned itself as delivering technology-led banking versus banking-led technology. I don’t know whether there will be other banks around the world positioning themselves as a technology company. But that’s what Ferocia is. It’s what we do, and it’s what we’re good at.

For example, prior to launch we set ourselves the goal of five software updates (deployments) for customers per day. In November last year we hit our peak of 10 times per day and we’re currently averaging 6 times per day.

Our entire cloud-hosted banking platform can be deployed in 45 seconds. A full regression test of every single device, every single operating system, every single-use case in the entire application is completed within 26 minutes.

We can do that twice in an hour, which is around 50 times every day. Of the 50 possible customer deployments we can do in a day, we currently get five or more of them out to customers who then get an iterative, improving Up app every single day. I’m not certain of many other tech companies in any industry in the world that can talk about that level of iteration and innovation.

Some of our other technology innovations and security are second to none. We pride ourselves on outage-less deploys so our customers experience less down-time, we have a completely different security model to most other banks we know where we encrypt every transmission end-to-end and have done away with the need for a traditional username and password. Up simply works, is secure and uses on-device capabilities such as biometrics and the secure enclave to ensure customer data is protected.

 

“From day one Up has positioned itself as delivering technology-led banking versus banking-led technology.”

Dom Pym. Co-Founder, UP Bank.

 

Transparency Is Key To Customer Experience.

We communicate openly and transparently with our customers about what we’re building and when we’ll deliver it. In fact, the Up roadmap is available publicly. We call it the “Tree of Up” and it helps our customers to self-serve when it comes to asking us when we’ll deliver new features, and it also holds us accountable for delivery.

Being customer-centric and design-led are also hallmarks of the great technology companies disrupting other industries (such as Skype in telecoms, Netflix in entertainment, Uber in taxis, Amazon in retail, and AirBnB in hotels, for example). We don’t see any reason why banking would be any different.

A technology-led approach has significant advantages over traditional banking-led incumbents and ex-bankers now running neobanks. The thinking and approach to solving problems and delivering excellence in digital products and services to customers is completely different. Being technology-led is a way of thinking, and it means a whole deal more than simply excellence in engineering, that is just one component (albeit an essential one).

 


 

What Plans Are There For Up Over The Next 12 Months?

Right now Up has focused on spending and savings products. We wanted to get to market relatively quickly and deliver the highest quality products in Australia. We’ve pretty much done that, and now we are looking at some product breadth and additional partnership announcements coming soon. The most popular requests from customers are mostly “table stakes” type of features (things like BPay and joint accounts).
You can see all these kinds of features on our public roadmap.

Because Up operates under a full banking license it’s possible for us to continually expand and improve Up’s product breadth over time. Eventually we’d also like for Up to offer other financial products customers want and use (like credit cards, mortgages, insurance, superannuation, share trading, and more). But the way we offer those type of services is likely to be different, more innovative and better than what is currently available.

The products announced by the likes of major international players like Transferwise, Square, Apple, and others, are similar in nature to the digital products we’ve had in development at Up for some time now. But we’d expect to launch products in Australia before they do.

We’ve experienced rapid growth in terms of customer numbers, deposits and transaction volumes, but at the same time we’ve also been developing our product roadmap. We get hundreds of inquiries from customers every day with product ideas through social media, and through our in-app support channel (Talk to Us). Many of these feature requests find their way onto the Tree of Up.

 

UP Bank
View The “Tree Of Up” https://up.com.au/blog/the-tree-of-up/
Follow UP Bank @up_banking and #upyeah

Speaking of the Tree of Up, we think it’s quite unique, certainly in banking, and even in technology circles more broadly. Pretty much the next 6 to 12 months of Up’s product development is publicly available. Customers can click on the different branches and see what we’re currently working on. The roadmap is our best way of communicating to customers who we are, what it is we do, and why.

We believe doing is the best way we can delight our customers, rather than talking about what we’re gonna do. Consistent delivery demonstrates our commitment to our customers, and it hasn’t gone unnoticed. Simply because we’re delivering improvements every single day, customers are always tweeting, posting. instagramming, and otherwise sharing new Up features – which is awesome and helps to maintain momentum and expand awareness. In effect, engagement is part of our product.

We also have a bunch of new innovations we like to keep rolling out. As an example, we recently launched our unique “Pull-to-Save” feature. Some people have said it’s like the gamification of saving for a whole new generation of Australians, which has been nailed by that one feature. Which is an amazing compliment. Internally, there were originally some reservations about launching the “Pull-to-Save” feature.

How would customers react? Should we be focussed on delivering traditional products, like BPay and joint accounts, credit cards, and home loans? Fair question. But for the team at Up, being able to change the decision-making and savings habits of an entire generation is a loftier goal.

 


 

 

 

Fintech Awards 2019 Winners

Thursday 1 August 2019, Ashurst hosted the 4th Annual Australian FinTech Awards in Sydney. It was an opportunity for the community to come together and celebrate success. 

Tier One People Sponsors Of Fintech Awards 2019.

Traditionally the awards focused on recognising grass roots, Fintech startups. With Unicorn companies like AfterPay and the rapidly growing Brighte now serious businesses, the awards symbolised the maturity of the Fintech sector in Australia.

Keynote speaker of this years awards was Todd Forest, Managing Director, nabventures.  Todd passionately spoke of the opportunities in Fintech and made the bold claim that one day a Fintech will acquire a major bank (Todd illustrating his theory with the story of AOL buying Time Warner).

Big shout out to our friends at Split, Brighte, Xinja, Wisr, Arctic Intelligence and Checkbox who all won awards.

The Award Winners Are:

FINTECH INNOVATION IN PAYMENTS – START-UP

Split Payments

FINTECH INNOVATION IN PAYMENTS – ESTABLISHED (24+ MONTHS OLD)

Afterpay Touch Group

FINTECH INNOVATION IN WEALTH MANAGEMENT (ROBO ADVICE)

Frollo

FINTECH INNOVATION IN LENDING

Wisr

BEST FINTECH COMMUNICATIONS CAMPAIGN

Xinja Bank

BEST FINTECH-BANK COLLABORATION OF THE YEAR

Brighte.

FINTECH LEADER OF THE YEAR

David Hyman, Lendi.

FEMALE FINTECH LEADER OF THE YEAR

Van Le, Xinja Bank.

FINTECH CTO/CIO OF THE YEAR

James Han, Checkbox.

INSURE-TECH STARTUP OF THE YEAR

daisee.

REG-TECH STARTUP OF THE YEAR

Arctic Intelligence.

BEST USE OF AI IN FINTECH AWARD

Brighte.

BEST FINTECH & NON-BANK COLLABORATION OF THE YEAR AWARD

Data Republic.

BEST PROPTECH STARTUP OF THE YEAR

BrickX.

INTERNATIONAL CONQUEROR AWARD

Afterpay Touch Group.

ASHURST FINTECH STARTUP OF THE YEAR

NOD.

The 4th Annual Fintech Awards
The FinTech sector is booming and so we’ve added more categories so everyone has the opportunity to be recognized for their achievements and success. Glen Frost

The 4th Annual FinTech Awards 2019 launched – Tier One People supports CTO/CIO Of The Year Award 

The 4th Annual Australian FinTech Awards 2019 are officially open, with Founder, Glen Frost, calling for Australian fintechs to submit their entries for the 2019 awards.

And Tier One People will be showing our support again, sponsoring the CTO/CIO Of The Year Award.

I am delighted to continue our partnership with The FinTech Awards, we share the same commitment to making Fintech in Australia world leading.

I spoke with Glen Frost, Founder of the Fintech Awards who had this to say.

“The FinTech Awards brings together the influential, disruptive, collaborative and innovative technology companies that are redefining financial services – this is a very exciting time to be in fintech,” said Frost.

“Now it’s its fourth year, the FinTech Awards has expanded to 16 categories, which reflects the growth of fintech covering adjacent areas such as Ai (Artificial Intelligence), Property (Proptech), Insurance (InsureTech) and Regulatory (RegTech),” added Frost.

The event is attended by Founders and entrepreneurs, startups, finance professionals, lawyers, investors as well as the eco-system of fintech.

 

“The FinTech Awards recognize businesses as well as individuals, with Awards such as CIO/CTO Of The Year, Female FinTech Leader of The Year, and FinTech Leader of The Year,” said Frost.

There are 16 award categories = http://fintechawards.net/ 

Date: Thursday 1st August 2019

Venue: The Ashurst Ballroom, Level 9, 5 Martin Place, Sydney, NSW 2000

Contact: Glen Frost, Founder, FinTech Awards. [email protected] 

 

Will Mahon-Heap – Revolut
When I joined the Revolut team was just 60 people based in Europe. We are now over 1000 with offices in Australia, the United States, Singapore and over 15 other countries.

We’re looking for Australia’s top talent.

Big News! Revolut launched in Australia this week. Tier One People is super proud to have been chosen by Revolut to support their recruitment drive.

Dexter Cousins caught up with Will Mahon-Heap who heads up global expansion at Revolut to talk about their plans. And understand what it is like to work with the worlds fastest growing Fintech.

 

For those who are not aware of Revolut it is a phenomenal growth story. Launching in 2015 Revolut has over 5 million customers in Europe, and another 350,000 joining each month. June 12th 2019 saw the launch of a public beta in Australia. Find out more about Revolut

 

Will, give us a brief introduction to Revolut.

Will: Revolut launched in July 2015 as a solution to hefty bank fees and bad exchange rates when sending and spending money abroad. Our founders, Nik and Vlad, are no strangers to the worlds of finance and tech, so it was clear from the start what needed to be done.

 

 

What makes Revolut different to the big banks?

I should start by saying that Revolut isn’t a bank in Australia right now, although we were recently granted a banking licence by the European Central Bank.

What differentiates us from traditional banks and systems, are unprecedented levels of freedom and control for our users. Customers can open an account from their phone in minutes, then spend and transfer money around the globe at the real exchange rate, hold and exchange up to 15 currencies in the app, and manage their money better with built-in budgeting and spending analytics. European customers can also receive their salaries with Revolut, and use Apple Pay.

 

 

Tell us about you and your work with Revolut.

Before joining Revolut, I was a lawyer at a firm called Russell McVeagh, then spent three years building a crowdfunding Fintech startup, Equitise, with a couple of co-founders. It was an amazing experience and I learned a lot, but I heard about Revolut and thought it had unique potential to go global from day one. They had a small team solving a real problem that affects billions of people around the world.

When I joined the Revolut team was just 60 people based in Europe. We are now over 1000 with offices in Australia, the United States, Singapore and over 15 other countries.

My team is responsible for taking Revolut global. From Australia to the United States, we take the company from zero to one in new jurisdictions. We get to learn about every aspect of the business; it’s essentially like setting up a startup within a startup, but with the support of a large and experienced team.

 

 

What makes joining Revolut Australia a smart move?

For Australians who frequently spend and transfer money overseas, Revolut has a core proposition for this market. Revolut customers can spend and transfer money abroad using the real interbank exchange rate, which means that Australians won’t be forced to accept hidden fees and hefty exchange rate markups from the big banks.

There’s also been turbulence in the finance sector in recent months, with incumbent banks making headlines and being hit with huge fines for maximising their profits at the expense of their customers. Australian financial services are in desperate need of disruption, which makes it an ideal time for Revolut to deliver a new, transparent, industry leading product that will put Australians back in control of their finances.

 

 

Who are you looking for?

If I were to describe the culture at Revolut in three words, they’d be aspirational, motivating, and electric. The truth is, all kinds of people thrive at Revolut. What they all have in common, though, is their tremendous energy, intelligence, and obsession to solve a genuine pain point. We don’t want to build a good product; we want it to be the best, ideal solution, for our customers.

We’re looking for people who are humble, entrepreneurial, and can get stuck in. We believe that you should come to work with the attitude that we’re here to learn and grow together. There’s also a great deal of autonomy to our roles. Revolut empowers you to thrive and solve real problems, without the micro management.

At the moment, I am in Australia assembling an all-star founding team, who will help scale up our operations and grow the business in the APAC region. We’re looking for experienced people, ideally with a Fintech background, who will be based in our Australia HQ in Melbourne.

This is an incredible opportunity to make a real difference for thousands, then millions of Australians. If you think you’re up for it, then get in touch with the team at Tier One People. And if you can make it please come and meet some of the Revolut team at our Melbourne #RevRally on 16th June.

 

Anthony Millet – Antler
At the end of the 6-month program each team will get to present their business to over 500 investors from around the globe.

Have you ever dreamed of launching your own Tech Startup? Antler is a global Startup generator and Venture Capital firm. They have a game changing approach to nurturing and supporting the next generation of entrepreneurs.

Dexter Cousins of Tier One People interviews Anthony Millet, Partner at Antler to discuss the launch of their first Australian program.

Can You Tell Us More About Antler?

Antler is a start-up generator and early stage VC. Over the next four years we plan to invest in over 200 technology businesses as the first investor. Our strategy is to recruit the top talent in Australia to build businesses with our support and back them from day one. The barriers to entry to build a tech business are lower than they have ever been. Yet the barriers to entrepreneurship are still there. Finding the right co-founder, raising capital, giving up a comfortable job. All of these fears prevent talented people from making the leap and fulfilling their potential.

The Antler program removes these barriers and enables the top talent in Australia to become entrepreneurs. We are de-risking the path to entrepreneurship. Approximately 90% of startups fail and it’s really down to one of three things.

  1. The founding team is not complimentary or strong enough.
  2. The product or service being created is not needed in the first place.
  3. Or the business idea was not commercial enough to generate the required capital.

Quite frankly, we think these are bullshit reasons for a startup business to fail and in the most part avoidable. Unfortunately, the startup investment community have got into a state of funding too many businesses that are set up for failure from day one. The six-month Antler program identifies and addresses these issues, providing founders with an unprecedented platform designed to heavily mitigate against these unnecessary reasons for failure.

Antler is truly democratising entrepreneurship and we are focused on diversity. There is no set profile for an entrepreneur. The reason we form teams is because we want complementary skill sets, but also complementary personalities.

The first program started June 3 with 70-plus founders in the Sydney Startup Hub. We received more than 1,000 applications. Joining the program are product managers, rocket scientists, and even those who have helped to build international businesses which have reached unicorn status.

With 71 founders officially signed, this first program has also positioned Antler as an industry leader for gender equality with 25% female founders. In 2018, only 2.2% of all VC investment in the US went to female founders. Our first cohort has 25 nationalities represented with an average work experience of 13.5 years. 57% of participants have a commercial background vs. 34% technical background vs. 8% industry experts.


How did you get started as an Entrepreneur?

As a young boy I started working in my father’s sports retail store in North West London. I became fascinated by business at a young age. My parents never went to university and worked incredibly hard to give me a very privileged upbringing where I could focus on my education. So, my parents were delighted when I came out of the university and joined an investment bank.

I covered the technology sector and was hugely inspired by my clients, who were building tech businesses and taking them through IPO. I was bitten by the bug and decided to quit investment banking and study an MBA. Sat with my parents one day, running a high street retail store, they told me their business wasn’t performing well. But they had just entered the online space and had launched a new website which was generating ten orders per day.

It was such a small component of the business, but I felt there was something there. And having seen the rise of offline to online sales in the technology sector I decided to have a crack and see if I could grow the business.

I postponed my MBA for a year, but one year became five years, in which we grew annual revenue to 35 million pounds and ultimately ended up selling that business to JD sports a FTSE listed sports retailer in the UK.

 

How did you become involved in the Australian Fintech startup scene?

I am married to an Australian, so we decided to move to Sydney. As I began thinking about my next project, I looked at the local landscape and infrastructure and realised setting up an eRetail business was not feasible. It was cheaper to send a a pair of sneakers from London to Sydney than Melbourne to Sydney!

Having recently grown a business across nine countries I knew the challenges of global growth. So, I decided to focus on a business model with significant domestic potential but have the option for international expansion. I spent a few months researching, met lots of people and recognised the Finance and Property industries were ripe for disruption in Australia.

At that time, I was having a conversation with Markus Kahlbetzer who had this great idea for a property share market. I partnered with Markus and became CEO of BrickX a fractional property investment business. Within 6 months we had launched. Within the first 12 months I had raised over $9m from Reinventure and NAB Ventures. In two and a half years we grew the team and were solving a big problem, helping Australians locked out of the property market invest in property.

The business grew to the point where I felt my skills were not best suited to take the business on the next phase of the journey. My expertise lies in startups and BrickX was now well established. It was the right time to step aside.

 

 


What attracted you to Antler?

I’d recently become a Dad and planned to take time out. Two weeks into my sabbatical, a friend tapped me on the shoulder and asked me to look at Antler. It was an opportunity too unique to ignore and the most impactful VC project that I have seen in Australia in the last four years.

Antler is an opportunity to help make Australia a global leader in startup ecosystems. As a country we are doing okay but I feel we can do so much better. Australia ranks no11 in the world for research & innovation. Ideas and talent are not the problem. But commercialising ideas is a major problem for Australia and we rank much lower on a global scale.

Clearly, the ecosystem has to work together to help great ideas become great businesses. The bar needs to be raised when it comes to entrepreneurship in Australia. It is a simple equation. Quality in = Quality out.

I’m excited about the impact Antler will have on the entire country. We believe our approach will raise the standards of startups in Australia and create a lot of new jobs.  Most importantly, over the next four years we are dislodging 800 high impact people from low-impact roles to build a large number of phenomenal companies.


How does the Program work?

The first program begins in June 2019 in Sydney and we will run the program every six months for four years. Come June, up to one hundred talented people across multiple industries and sectors will start the flagship program. The first two months of the program is based around matching cofounders. Finding the right one or two people with complementary skills who get on and share an interest or passion to build a really awesome business.

One hundred people could come up with 500 ideas. That’s great, but we encourage everyone in the program to be open minded and drop their idea if something better comes along. Through a process of daily hackathons, forming teams, breaking up teams, consistently testing ideas we believe after two months we can form the optimal founder teams with strong idea validation.

At the end of the two-month co-founding period, teams present their business idea and business model to our investment committee. If we believe in a founder team and their idea then we invest $100,000 to start the business for a 10 per cent stake. Out of 45 teams we intend to invest in 20 or 30 of them. Every program participant is paid $4000 per month in the initial two-month period. We are truly de-risking the path to entrepreneurship

When you consider that many of the ideas we invest in will only be a few weeks old, we are investing in the people first. Then providing the resources and support to turn an idea into a successful, scalable technology business.

During the four-month building process, teams are provided with the support to build an MVP and get as much validation as possible. No one’s wasting any time fundraising at any point through the program. At the end of the 6-month program each team will get to present their business to over 500 investors from around the globe.

We are taking a global view from day one. The ideas we invest in will have the potential to scale globally. Antler is live in Stockholm and Singapore. London and Amsterdam go live in May, Sydney goes live in June. September, the program launches in New York and Nairobi.  

With the Antler programs in 7 countries and plans for up to 20 cities live within 18 months, we see a huge opportunity to collaborate on a global scale.

Which type of person to you think is best suited to the program?

Antler is truly democratising entrepreneurship and we are focused on diversity. There is no set profile for an entrepreneur. The reason we form teams is because we want complementary skill sets, but also complementary personalities.

If we look at the first intake the average number of years work experience for people coming into a program is fourteen. Typically, cohort members have operated just below C-Level, where they have seen all the action but not always been recognised and rewarded for their efforts. The people we have chosen are highly talented, experienced and motivated people who have a strong desire to come together and build next generation Tech businesses. Although we are tech agnostic Proptech, Fintech, Regtech, Agritech, Cyber Security, Martech and Edtech are the areas we expect will produce the most business ideas.

When we’re interviewing people coming into the program, we are mostly interested in the people not the idea. What we’re really assessing is the impact they’ve had at work, what they’ve personally accomplished and some of the challenges they’ve faced in their life. We are looking for significant examples of drive, resilience, grit, tenacity and entrepreneurship.

I’m very careful to not try and sell the program. This is about us creating a clear path to entrepreneurship, but individuals need to self select themselves to take the step in to such a program. If you are someone who is a high achiever, with entrepreneurial flair, but you’ve been held back because you haven’t found that right person, or financial circumstances. Then, Antler could be the opportunity for you to finally test your own personal limits and co-found a business.

How do people get involved?

Applications for the June cohort have now closed, but we are now recruiting for the January 2020 cohort – you can apply at www.antler.co. You can also find out more information about founder events and learn more on the website. To see our current cohort for June 2019 visits www.antler.dev

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Steve Weston – Volt Bank

People warned me that building a bank would be very difficult. But it is much, much harder than that!

Steve Weston. CEO, Volt Bank.

Steve Weston is CEO of Volt Bank, the first fully licensed Neobank in Australia. Tier One People CEO Dexter Cousins caught up with Steve at Volt Banks HQ in Sydney to talk everything digital banking.


What is the story behind why you started Volt Bank?

Steve: I started my banking career at the age of fifteen in a small town in North Queensland. It was a great introduction to banking and the important role banks play in the community. Fast forward 30 years and I found myself in the UK as part of the senior leadership team at Barclays in a very similar environment the banks in Australia are facing post the Royal Commission. Somehow banks today have lost their purpose for existing, which is to serve customers.

At Barclays, I experienced first hand what happens when banks don’t do the right thing by their customers. I also experienced the challenges incumbent banks face when attempting to adapt to the digital and data driven world we now live in.

When I came back to Australia in the beginning of 2016, I spoke with boards and executives of at least a dozen banks on two topics. Firstly the change in regulation; I was confident that they could see what had transpired in the UK post-GFC was likely to happen in Australia. Secondly, the need for digital transformation; Barclays is recognised as a leader in digital transformation amongst incumbent banks globally.

The banks found my insights interesting but also too challenging to action. I think if I had joined a major Australian bank I might have only lasted a couple of weeks. My opinions were strong on what was likely to happen and what needed to be done, I would most likely have been considered too much trouble! Instead I decided to take a different route – I joined the board of a peer-to-peer lender and invested in a few Fintech startups.

Then one day I bumped into an old St George colleague of mine, Luke Bunbury, who is now my Co-Founder of Volt Bank. Like most businesses, the Volt Bank idea started by putting the world to rights over a bottle of red and a pizza!

Luke and I both agreed that the future of banking was digital with clear examples of new entrants in the UK market such as Monzo, Starling and Revolut. The barriers to entry in Australia were incredibly high, even if we had the significant capital required, the chance of ever getting a banking licence was remote. So, we just parked the idea and got on with life.

A day I vividly remember is May the 9th 2017. I was watching the federal budget on TV, Australia’s Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, the Treasurer at the time, announced key changes to the Australian banking regulations. He called for an open banking review, announced the BEAR (Bank Executive Accountability Regime) act, the Banking Levy and most importantly for us, the restricted banking licence approach. A similar approach to phased licencing in the UK made it possible for Monzo, Starling and the UK neo bank revolution to get off the ground.

I didn’t sleep that night and wrote what was to become a business plan. I met with Luke the next morning and we agreed to commit to a six-week feasibility study to assess the viability of building a neobank in Australia. We reached out to nine other colleagues to ask if they could help. By June 2017 we made the decision to form Volt Bank and all nine are still members of the team.

 

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How difficult has it been to become a fully licensed bank? And do you have any advice?

People warned me that building a bank would be very difficult. But it is much, much harder than that!

We applied for a restricted banking licence in October 2017, were granted that licence 7 months later in May 2018 and consequently granted a full banking license in January 2019. We are unaware of any bank; even multinational banks being granted a full Australian banking licence in less than that time. Whilst it has been challenging, it has been an amazingly rewarding experience.

 

Being awarded a banking licence is an extremely difficult and rigorous process, and so it should be.”

Steve Weston – Volt Bank

First you need a deeply experienced board and management team in place. I am regularly asked for advice on how to start a neobank and get a licence. Most of the people who are thinking about building a bank I meet come from technology or M&A backgrounds. The harsh reality is they will struggle to get a banking licence and will likely burn through any capital they raise unless they have all the ingredients in place.

We have met with people who have started the process of a restricted license and then pulled out because of how difficult it is. Before anyone starts, I would encourage them to speak with people at Xinja, 86:400 and Judo Bank.

The execution risk of any startup is high, but in building a digital bank, the risk is extremely high. Without a banking licence, you can’t conduct business. You need all your technology in place, an experienced board and significant amounts of capital. It is a huge investment before you can even sell a product or service.

 

What is your secret to raising capital?

There’s no secret. We have worn out a lot of shoe leather! I think our proposition is compelling. The UK is a comparable banking market to Australia and if we look at the digital banking scene there, 1 in 4 millennials has an account with a neobank, all in the space of approximately three years. Awareness and growth is increasing at an exponential rate with people looking for a genuine alternative to the incumbent banks.

Cloud Technology and data analytics enable pure digital banks to provide a superior service at a much lower cost, which is obviously an attraction to customers and investors.

The Royal Commission has helped raise awareness that the traditional banking model isn’t working for many customers, and alternative solutions are required. We don’t expect customers will simply switch banks because of the Royal Commission. However, research shows that Australian millennials are the most likely millennial group on the planet to switch and the most worried about their financial future. While mum and dad may have grumbled about their bank, they seldom changed. Millennials think and act differently, loyalty is no longer a key element in the decision process.

Investors hear our story and it makes sense to even the most skeptical of fund managers. Now, some might want to see runs on the board before investing. But many have invested on the strength of our story, the strategy we have in place and the background and experience of our management team and board. The fact we have delivered on timelines, especially getting a banking licence, has instilled a lot of confidence in the investor community.

 

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What influence has your UK experience had on Volt Bank’s customer proposition?

It has had some influence, but we have looked at many neo-banks all across the world to see what they have done well and what we can do better. We have opened accounts with them and spoken to founders where we can.

For 600 years banking largely has been done the same way. You go to a bank branch, get a deposit account or loan product and once the exchange happens you are left to get on with life. Our customer research indicates people want a bank that understands what they are trying to achieve in their lives and help them along the way. We call these ‘journeys.’ Customers want a bank to assist them in achieving outcomes in a more effective way than has been possible in the past.

Rather than just providing a savings account, Volt Bank seeks to understand what it is a customer is saving for and helps them budget, save and develop habits to get there. The Volt app will analyse spending habits and monthly living costs and provide real time prompts when a customer is over spending.

Customers are telling us that they want even more than this. If we can in some way save them money or provide access to a better deal, then they want to hear about it. Customers today expect banks to provide them with suggestions on how to save. A way would be to offer a better deal on non-bank products like utilities, insurance and mobile phone plans. Volt Bank’s key point of differentiation is to help customers in this more holistic way.

 

Who do you see as being the biggest threats to the Australian banking industry?

It would be naive of Volt Bank to think we can compete against multi-billion-dollar corporations. The major Australian banks have 80% market share, so there is plenty of opportunity for Volt to capture some of that market with direct customer acquisition.

People immediately assume Amazon, Facebook, Google etc. will be the biggest threat, and we recognise that the tech firms may potentially want to offer banking products to their customer bases. However, while large tech firms may have the capital required to become a bank, it is also comes with a lot of pain and regulatory scrutiny, and detracts from their core business. More often they look to partnerships as we have seen with Apple and Goldman Sachs.

Volt Bank has three partnerships announced to date, one of which is PayPal that has over 7 million Australian users. In the coming months we expect to announce other partnerships with businesses with highly engaged customer bases, which are looking to expand their services. We have put in place a business model, technology and experienced people to provide a platform for partner banking. It is a different approach, but we think the market globally and particularly in Australia, is ready for it.

 

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How many employees work at Volt Bank?

Currently there are 120 full time and contract staff. In 12 months’ time, we expect to have around 200 people. Volt Bank will never employ the number of people a major bank does. By adopting a scalable model with the help of automation and technology we will be able to keep our head count low. However, machines can’t do everything and when it comes to customer contact, we feel it is essential customers deal with humans when they need to. This is why customers of Volt Bank will get to deal with highly skilled customer service representatives.

 

Does Volt Bank require the same skills, disciplines and expertise as a traditional bank?

Yes, and no. We have roles that you would find in any other bank; treasury, risk, cyber security, compliance and so forth. Then we have the creative and tech teams. Designers, engineers and creatives are all on one floor and it is a different environment. There is also a startup hub which is essentially our lab area.

There is a balance between being a bank and tech startup, with a lot of respect between the different teams. Everyone in the business knows that without the banking and risk discipline, we wouldn’t have a banking licence, however that we’re not going to become successful by operating and thinking like a traditional bank.

And that’s why we have recruited people from different industries and from different countries, people at the top of their game who have a burning desire to transform the way banking is done.

 

How does the culture of Volt Bank differ from other banks you have worked in?

The culture of any organisation is formed from the top of the business. I am fortunate that I love people, love customers and I am a bit of a sticky beak. I try to say good morning to everyone I see each day, and goodbye when I’m leaving to those still in the office.

I know everyone by name, I get to know a bit about them, and I want people to feel comfortable so they can speak with anyone in the business about anything, positive or negative. We get together regularly as a complete team and discuss challenges and achievements, communicate which decisions have been made and why we prioritised those decisions. It is a very open and collaborative environment.

It is critical we invest in our people. We work hard to ensure everyone at Volt Bank understands our purpose and why we go to work every day. We set clear expectations as to what is expected from each team member,and we talk regularly about any mistakes that may have been made to learn from them. We want our people to feel they can be their true self when they come to work.

Coming to work every day is a lot of fun. It doesn’t mean the work isn’t hard and it doesn’t mean that everything’s perfect. But we are building something unique, the culture feels more like an elite sports team trying to win the championship than a business at times. That level of commitment, character, drive, determination and skill is the kind of culture we want at Volt Bank.

 

How have you attracted Game Changing talent without having a banking license?

The original nine people who helped bring the idea of Volt Bank to life with Luke and myself have been the key. Almost all of our hires to date have come from our networks. When we formed Volt Bank, we had founding members in the UK, Singapore and the USA. We have been able to tap into some of the best talent in the world.

We get a lot of interest from people approaching us direct. We assess talent on a combination of technical skills, attitude and cultural fit. Typically, highly talented people will come into an organisation and they want to do a diagnostic for a few months, see what’s going on, and then make decisions on what needs to happen.

Because we were growing so quickly and because there is so much to do, we can’t afford that luxury. We need people who can fly the plane as we are building it. What do I mean by that? We value talent and expertise, but our people have to adopt the lean startup mentality of building, learning and fixing along the way. And that is a very different way of working to traditional banks and corporates. Even highly talented people can find a new environment challenging so it is about finding a balance while people get used to our way of working. But not everyone can or wants to work this way. So, we are very particular about who we hire and why.

 

Final question, when can we expect to see Volt Bank launch?

We are currently in the final stages of product design. We also have what we call Volt Labs where we ask customers for insights and feedback. There’s currently 15,000 customers on the waitlist, and we expect to launch our initial savings products in August 2019.

Building products together and co-creating with a test group of customers not only ensures the products have market fit. In the process we are also building a customer base who become advocates. People want to deal with companies they trust.

Anthony Quinn Arctic Intelligence
Anthony Quinn – Arctic Intelligence

Anthony Quinn is founder and CEO of Arctic Intelligence, one of Australia’s first Regtech startups. Anthony and the team have developed a platform that tackles the global problem of financial crime and money laundering. Dexter Cousins, CEO of Tier One People caught up with Anthony to talk about the journey so far.

Can you tell me more about Arctic Intelligence?

We specialise in audit risk and compliance software, predominantly in the final crime prevention space. One of our platform solutions is AML Accelerate, which is a cloud-based money laundering and terrorism financing risk assessment platform, that caters to 30 different financial and non-financial industry sectors and contains an AML Program tailored to the laws of over 10 countries

We’ve got a very diverse client base on AML Accelerate including some larger financial institutions like Suncorp, CUA, TAL, smaller financial institutions like the challenger banks, Xinja, Volt and 86:400, digital currencies, money remitters, non-bank lenders, as well as non-financial sectors including lawyers, accountants, real-estate agents and various pubs and clubs.

We also have developed two other platforms, another Risk Assessment Platform that we are about to launch. It is aimed at sophisticated financial institutions, major corporations and professional services firms and is a risk agnostic, flexible and highly configurable platform. The risk framework, risk and controls assessment and methodology can be adjusted to suit any company.  

The other platform is Health Check which caters for regulated businesses and their professional advisers. The platform assesses the design and operational effectiveness of compliance programs through rigorous controls testing, which is used by clients like Deloitte on their engagements.

How did Arctic Intelligence get started?

I spent 20 years consulting to investment, and retail banks first in the UK. I moved to Australia in 2003 running a number of risk and compliance programs for different banks. Over the last 10 years I specialised in financial crime and was the program director running the AML and FATCA programme for Macquaries Banking and Financial Services Group. I developed a deep interest in solving the financial crime problem. Many of the challenges regulated businesses have in managing their risk and compliance obligations stem from the fact that many of these processes are manual.

So, I set about building a platform to make it easy for regulated businesses of all sizes, sectors and geographies to conduct financial crime risk assessments and build effective control frameworks to mitigate and manage their risks.

There was a huge gap in the market that no one was addressing. Money laundering risk assessments and AML programs have to be signed off by the board, with significant consequences for board directors and companies in the form of millions of dollars in civil penalties.

CBA’s $700m fine (which highlighted among many other things, deficiencies in product risk assessment), the royal commission into banking misconduct and the rise of the board executive accountability regime make it clear organisations can no longer rely on outdated spreadsheets to manage a very important risk category.

Arctic Intelligence started as a side hustle, like most startups do. For two years, I was developing the business while working four days a week with Macquarie. I personally funded the initial development of the platform, working with a development team to build an MVP. At the end of 2015, I finished up with Macquarie and went full time with Arctic Intelligence.

We were one of the first residents at Stone and Chalk. Then in August 2016, we won our first client, Deloitte, and then from there the business has just kept growing.  We’re 17 full-time staff at the moment, mostly based in Stone and Chalk but we do have a couple of people as Business Development Managers in Singapore and the UK.




How is the team structured?

First of all, as a startup we need people who are multi talented. But we are broadly split across three main areas. Our Chief Operating Officer, Darren Cade looks after our operations, client services, HR, finance and content management activities.

We’ve got a sales and marketing team led by Imelda Newton. Her team is responsible for winning new clients and building relationships with consulting firms of all sizes plus establishing and maintaining active reseller relationships.  

Then we have the product and technology team, headed by Nathan Zaetta our Chief Technology Officer and supported by a Head of Product, Tammy Goodman and Development Lead, David Stephen. They lead the requirements gathering and software development across our three platforms and manage the testing team which we’ve got in-house.

Under each of these teams we are supported by a very enthusiastic and high-performing team, as well as a very experienced Board, Advisory Group and Investor base.

What are the biggest challenges you have found in hiring people.

The challenges you face in being a startup, is that most people with experience would be mad to join in some ways. Myself and some of the people we’ve hired could earn a salary of over $400,000 at one of the banks. It’s a tough sell to entice people to leave that comfort and join a startup for 75% less than they are currently earning on a promise of changing the world!

So, you’ve got to have the right people with the right attitude. Most importantly, anyone you hire needs to clearly understand what they are letting themselves in for.  We hire people who are passionate about the vision and can see where the business will be in a few years time. But even that isn’t enough. The people we hire need to demonstrate how instrumental they can be in making the vision come to life. Startup businesses are pretty tough at the beginning.

Can-do attitude is important, You can’t be political or too precious in a startup. We are building a team of high performers. We have been very selective with the people we have hired . We are very lucky to have high calibre people on the team.

How do you hire high calibre people?

We’ve done a couple of investor rounds which were targeted to private investors. That process not only brought in funding but gave access to investor networks. That is how we have assembled an impressive board. We have the ex Chair of PWC Australia as Chairman, Neil Helm, the ex-CEO of OFX is a director. Our board and investor network are all very deeply experienced and well connected, so we leverage that whenever we can.

Arctic Intelligence were one of the first RegTechs in Australia. How far has the industry come since you launched?  

It’s funny. When we launched RegTech wasn’t even a term. The Regtech Association came together about 18 months ago. A small group of startups were out promoting the benefits of RegTech and highlighting the need for change. We really struggled initially to get momentum, primarily because the care factor of AML compliance was so low.

Fines and penalties for non compliance were very low, the biggest fine was $300,000. And the likelihood of a regulator taking a business to court was virtually non-existent. The big shift started when CBA were fined $700 million, and the Royal Commission into banking  misconduct. There is now a lot of demand for RegTech solutions.

Arctic Intelligence were one of the first nine founding members of the RegTech Association. It has been overwhelming how positive the association has been received and much of the credit should go to Deborah Young, the CEO for driving this forward. At the last conference in March 2019 we had 105 startup and corporate members and sponsors. So it’s definitely taken on a life of its own and the conversations are really starting to happen in major firms that may not have considered the value of regulatory technology.

There’s certainly a lot of good use cases and testimonials and some really good early adopters of the latest  technology. We have noticed a significant uptake in our business and see this continuing to gain momentum.

What is the opportunity for RegTech in Australia to compete globally?

I think what we’ve got going for us is that it is a small market, but it’s a very open environment. We have Tech hubs like Stone and Chalk, Tank Stream Labs, Fishburners etc fostering innovation in RegTech and FinTech. But we also have very open and engaged regulatory authorities such as AUSTRAC and ASIC. They are running regular update meetings and have developed an outreach programme to RegTech startups.

The regulators are now very open to RegTech and frankly I think they need it as much as the banks do. If you look at a regulator like AUSTRAC, they’ve got 300 staff to monitor 14,000 regulated businesses. This number will increase to approximately 85,000 businesses in 2020. Without technology it is not feasible that regulators can effectively regulate – they are resource constrained and losing the battle, they have to be smart about supporting technology innovation but also become adopters themselves. I offered our technology to one of the regulators for free, over 4 years ago but nobody has taken up this offer.

It’s a great eco-system where you’ve got regulators, regulatory bodies, professional services firms and tech providers collaborating together, challenging each other on the art of the possible. It is leading to rapid innovation and proving what can be achieved. Everyone is going on their own journey with RegTech, which gives us all a much deeper understanding of multiple perspectives.

I think this is the key reason why Australian RegTech seems to be standing out globally.

What are the future plans for Arctic Intelligence?

We are about to launch, another risk assessment platform, which is domain agnostic. So it can do much more than Anti Money Laundering. The new platform has multiple use cases including bribery, fraud, cyber, operational risk or any risk domain. It allows a lot more flexibility in terms of being able to introduce risk models or control frameworks, add relative weighting of risks and controls, changing methodologies.

We’ve developed a very flexible risk platform primarily aimed at sophisticated reporting entities like major banks. Believe it or not, most of the major banks we work with in Australia and overseas are still managing financial crime and AML risk assessments on spreadsheets. The platform takes the data in those spreadsheets and puts it into a robust risk assessment framework.

The platform is geared towards regulated businesses and the professional services community. Deloitte are white labelling our technology. We are in a beta test program, which is a global program with about 25 different stakeholders in the UK, Canada, the US, Southeast Asia and Australia.

What’s the end-game for Arctic Intelligence?

We feel like we’re at the bottom of the mountain, even though we’ve been going for quite some time. There’s a lot of growth potential for us in terms of growing into new markets, growing into new industry sectors and growing across our product ranges.

We think we’re just at the start and the sky’s the limit, so we are really pumped to get out there and make a difference. And ultimately it is about trying to do our bit to help solve the money laundering problem and the social impact that causes – violence on our streets, rampant ice addiction in Australian cities and country towns, increase in crime rates, domestic violence and broken families.

That is our higher purpose and the thing that really drives us.

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Fintech Hiring Market Update
Fintech Hiring Market Update

There is a lot of uncertainty in the market which is concerning for business leaders. A Royal Commission, open banking, a looming Brexit, a general election, Apple moving into financial services, Libra. All of these things are weighing on executives minds.

Of all the discussions we have at C-Suite level, there is a common fear shared by all, from the CEO of a 10 person Fintech disrupting the market, to the CEO of a major bank.

Will the platform we are building today be relevant 12 months from now?

Technology and global markets seem to be moving so fast, most executives are struggling to keep pace. Couple that with the changing regulatory landscape and looking further than 12 months into the future is creating indecision. When decisions are finally made, the market has moved on, the goal posts have changed and so the process starts all over again!

Is The Fintech Hiring Market Stalling?

The answer is no if we look at investment numbers. But we are entering a new evolution, Fintech 2.0 and the platform play. The pressure is on for founders and executives to deliver to investors and shareholders. The challenge for scaling Fintechs appears to be plateauing top line growth or even an obsolete product/business model.

Most Fintech to date are apps/features or middle layer software solutions. But with the emergence of ‘Super Apps’ like Revolut the competition is becoming much tougher. And customers expectations are rising.

When it comes to scaling the business two options are most often considered. Grow geographically (Cover Genius and AfterPay have taken this approach) or pivot domestically. To pivot successfully requires two things; new products and people to drive the sales of new products.

Pivots are not exclusive to scaling startups. We see an increasing demand for Fintech talent from corporations pivoting their own product lines. Some are even reinventing their business models. Some examples include FSI’s, Insurers and Software companies.

Based on our assessment of the market there is significant demand for two profiles from Fintech.


Chief Product Officer/Head of Product.

Founders and business leaders seem to be crying out for commercial product managers with the ability to deliver the killer product. Indeed, the EY/Fintech Australia Census 2019 highights Product/Market Fit as the number one challenge for Fintech.

Product areas appear well stocked with those who can project manage. Strategic and commercial acumen seems to be in short supply, leading to months wasted on product development before a market fit has been established. Business leaders dream of applying Lean Startup Principles. While Product teams seem obsessed with following Agile rather than being Agile.

What is the answer?


2019 has seen an increase in Head of Product and a Chief Product Officer searches at Tier One People. We sourced 75% of shortlisted candidates domestically. 25% were international candidates. However, it is a 50/50 split on domestic and international hires made.

Based on the client feedback, it was felt international candidates demonstrated clearer commercial thinking. Most importantly, talent could point to several examples in which they had taken a product from idea to revenue generation, at scale.

It seems the product management community is acutely aware of the problem. Read this excellent blog post by Adrienne Tan https://brainmates.com.au/product-management/cut-out-product-management/


Sales Director/Head of Partnerships.

Revenue growth is hard to come by and the pressure is beginning to show signs. The sizzle of Fintech has attracted a lot of investment. Indeed 2018 saw an all time record for Fintech investment in Australia. And with the additional investment come higher expectations.

I wrote of this phenomenon three years ago, when SaaS businesses went on huge hiring sprees for business development managers.

We are seeing increased demand for people who can bring in new business. Especially significant corporate partnerships that will make an immediate and long term impact on revenue growth.

B2B sales is complex. Deals can take anywhere from 6 – 18 months. B2B2C deals may not take as long, but with API integration to be factored in, there is a heavy dose of project management required to onboard any new client. Deals are fragile and complex with technology and regulatory roadblocks often leading to months of work being wasted.

The market is reacting with an increasing demand for Partnerships Directors. These are rare people indeed. A Partnerships Director must possess the hustle and entrepreneurial drive of a sales person. But with empathy/relationship building and well developed project management skills. If that wasn’t difficult enough to find, strong product knowledge and hands on operational experience is considered essential to the role.

Tier One People have had success sourcing talent from the UK and US markets which are more accustomed to this model.


Design Thinking For Hiring.

Our clients seem to be experiencing better outcomes by adopting a design thinking approach to hiring. Over the last year we have been working with a small group of trusted clients on a new approach to recruitment. It has been so successful that two clients saved close to $500,000 when after our consultation, they realised they didn’t need to hire!

If you would like to find out more on Design Hiring listen to this Interview with Tier One People founder, Dexter Cousins.


Busting Startup Hiring Myths

If you are a Fintech leader, you will probably agree that hiring great people can sometimes feel like an impossible task.

Since launching in 2016, Tier One People has interviewed hundreds of Fintech leaders. These frank discussions on the challenges of growing and scaling a startup sometimes can contradict the popular advice from Silicon Valley.  We have researched and analysed the hiring strategies of Google, Facebook, Netflix and other tech firms and see some major flaws in following the strategies for a startup in Australia.

Let’s bust some hiring myths.

Hire for culture fit.

Katherine McConnell is Founder and CEO of Brighte. She is recognised as the Outstanding FinTech leader in Australia and was named in the Top 10 most influential women in Fintech globally. Katherine had this to say about hiring on culture fit.

Today we’re able to attract great people because of the brand, our investors and the fact we are a solid business. But a year ago, no one had heard of Brighte.

Attracting great people to a start-up is very difficult. You don’t have much leverage. Hiring based on values is nice but not always possible. Now Brighte is established we absolutely recruit on values and cultural alignment.

Initially I hired people based on technical expertise. I had to take a gamble on whether the person would work out or not. We just had to build the platform and get it done. The advice I was given was ‘hire slow, fire fast’ but in a startup sometimes you have to hire fast and fire slow. As a leader you have to make tough decisions.


Hire based on proven experience.

Martin McCann Trade Ledger

Martin McCann is CEO and Cofounder of Trade Ledger, winner of FinTech Startup of the year 2019. Trade Ledger is rapidly scaling with offices in Sydney and London.

We don’t focus on people’s experience or their background, we focus on whether or not they would fit well with the team or will they be disruptive in the team. We prefer to hire people with high potential or high propensity for success.

What we’ve found is interesting. People who are under-experienced, properly motivated and show high potential are a much better fit for this organisation than people who’ve got proven experience.

People with high potential fit the way we work. They want to get ahead quickly, they appreciate the opportunity to be able to contribute and to learn. And they understand the value it creates for them as an asset that differentiates them in the market.


Create a culture where there is no fear of failure.

Vincent Turner is Founder of Uno Home Loans. He is a Fintech veteran now on his third startup. Vincent spent five years in Silicon Valley, setting up the Valleys first ever Fintech Meetup. Vincent had this to say about failure.

We are a consumer focused fintech, so our culture is driven by discovery and big ideas. You can conduct focus groups, give customers a prototype, let them observe it, but that customer will act differently when you ship the product. To get to something that works is an act of discovery

The team is encouraged to come up with extraordinary ideas and to test them out. Then we make a frank evaluation of what worked and what didn’t. We don’t talk about failure at uno. Failure is when you are reckless in the way you try things. But an experimentation-led culture, where you can call out what works and what doesn’t, is the absolute mainstay for any customer centric business.

Millenials are hard to motivate.

George Lucas is CEO of Raiz Invest and ASX listed investment platform that helps people save and invest automatically. The app has been a big hit with millenials and George applies the same approach to customers as he does managing his team.

Raiz has gained a lot of traction with Millennials, more than 900,000 people have downloaded the app and we are managing more than $250 million in funds.

We have developed a lot of loyalty within our customer base. Engagement is key and we are always listening to our customers. If you look at our product development releases to date, some examples being Raiz Kids, Raiz Rewards, My Finance and most recently Raiz Super, it has all been driven by our customers.

Maybe the difficulties other finance companies experience tapping into the Millennial market are self-inflicted? Let’s face it, Financial Services in Australia is heavily dominated by middle-aged men. We have seen several instances in the last twelve months where young people feel the people in power are out of touch with the modern world.

Rather than lecturing our customers on whether they should spend their money on Avo and Toast, we are providing them with the tools to save for a home deposit, or a holiday, or their kids school fees. Millennials are no different to any other customer. Just listen, give them what they need and treat them with respect.

We have adopted the same approach with our people who seem to enjoy the challenges of a FinTech startup. I listen and provide my team with the tools to do their job. Then I let them get on with it. Its a very laid back environment, we don’t manage people, no one comes in to work in a suit and tie, we’re not that type of financial services organisation. We have a mutual respect for each other. And I am learning so much from our people. It’s a very young business, most of our people are under the age of 30. And they seem to be laughing a lot, so they can’t be that unhappy!


Startups can’t compete for exceptional talent.

Alex Badran is Co-Founder of Spriggy, Fintech Startup of the year. By adopting a Lean Startup approach to hiring, Spriggy has managed to assemble a diverse group of highly talented people, while bootstrapping the business.

We have brilliant people in the team and a very eclectic mix of backgrounds. My co-founder is a physicist and an electrical engineer. Our CTO has been building apps ever since apps were around. Our CMO is a software engineer, one of our software engineers has a medical degree and our customer success lead used to be a geneticist.

We have managed to hire remarkably talented people who are great people, not just intelligent. They work hard, they care about what they do, they care about the people around them and they care about our customers.

This might sound simple, but talented people want to work with talented people who share the same values and ethics. That’s it. Sure, our people have flexibility, equity and all the advantages of working in a startup, but they are not the key motivators for joining.

Our people really buy into the Spriggy mission too. I love coming to work, and I learn so much from our team, every day. They are just amazing to be around. I am sure it will become harder to hire exceptional people as we scale, but right now, hiring talent isn’t a challenge for us.


So, what is the best approach to hiring for a startup?

We wish there were a rule-book for hiring, but every business is different. The one thing all of our interviews have in common? Each leader took their own course and made their own decisions. None followed ‘the Google way’ or ‘the Amazon way’.

Our advice is to go with your gut feel. Instead of focusing on finding the perfect match, focus on the business problem you are trying to solve. You may find there are alternative solutions to hiring. Or as we find in most instances with clients, the person you think you want is not the person you need to hire.

If you are in the process of hiring and want to get some advice contact Dexter or Joanne – [email protected]

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Mark Tarring – TildaTravel

TildaTravel’s proprietary technology is the first platform to efficiently aggregate multiple travel and financial services to provide a seamless, frictionless family holiday planning and booking user experience.

Tier One People Founder, Dexter Cousins speaks exclusively with Mark Tarring, Founder and CEO of TildaTravel, a game changing platform bringing the worlds of online Travel and FinTech together.

I’ve known Mark for ten years starting back when he was Co-MD of Virgin Money Australia. We caught up recently to talk about the launch of TildaTravel, how he plans to revolutionise the online travel industry and why he chose Hobart as HQ.

What’s Tilda Travel?

TildaTravel is an Australian first, an API platform bringing to market a truly family friendly travel and travel money business. It makes booking holidays and organising holiday money and insurance so much easier.

The travel industry is not geared for modern families. There is an increasing trend for grandparents, brothers, sisters and even pets to go on holiday together. Trying to book a holiday for a family online is hard and time consuming, which is why traditional travel agencies still exist. You literally have to sit with an ‘expert’ for at least an hour to sort everything out.

Booking a family holiday online from Australia can be confusing and require multiple different platforms and online booking engines to compare prices, book flights, confirm accommodation, buy travel insurance and order currency.

TildaTravel is a technology platform that solves this problem by delivering a seamless customer experience. It’s a one-stop shop that allows customers to book every element of their holiday easily.

How does it work?

We start with inspiration, then guide the user through planning and execute with bookings. We add in all the extra details that make a holiday really smooth, like insurance, foreign exchange, travel data and lounge passes.

Like all great technology, TildaTravel’s unique platform takes a traditional experience – in this case the experience of working with a world class, truly expert travel agent – automates it, adds scale and an overlay of digital data analysis and AI and delivers a user experience that is better, faster and more economical.

When the new platform comes live, users will input their data once, and then find it automatically pre-filled as they work through the whole process of planning a holiday. TildaTravel’s platform uses the first piece of booking data, the accommodation, and matches that data to the full spectrum of family holiday needs, finding and recommending the best flights, travel insurance and other products, services and experiences.

TildaTravel’s proprietary technology is the first platform to efficiently aggregate multiple travel and financial services to provide a seamless, frictionless family holiday planning and booking user experience.


Is TildaTravel a FinTech, a travel business or both?

TildaTravel is something completely new, we call it TravelTech. It is a family traveller consumer centric business that partners with fintech, tech and travel firms. As an API-based platform we are able to seamlessly plug in partners and third parties who match our mission of making family holidays safe, fun and easy and allow us to offer our customers unique holiday experiences.

We were delighted to launch to market with a crop of the world’s top global travel brands already on board as partners including HomeAway (Stayz), Hertz, Travelex, Cruise1st, Collinson (Priority Pass) and Telna. For example, as part of the TildaTravel platform customers will be able to book a family friendly villa from HomeAway’s beautiful properties in Australia and around the world.

As TildaTravel evolves we are constantly adding to our suite of integrated businesses, sourcing and securing travel and technology partners who augment our customers’ experience. As well as the core offerings, we are seeking innovation; for example we are currently exploring a relationship with a unique startup which uses technology to track your luggage location – great for dads like me who need to know where it is at all time and of course an incredible tool for locating lost luggage!

Our focus is on making holidays easy, safe and fun through technology – but at the same time allowing our customers access to a myriad of options that allow them to hyper personalise their unique tailored family experience.

You spent a number of years at Virgin Money. Has working with the brand inspired your approach to TildaTravel?

Sir Richard Branson is one of the greatest entrepreneurs and pioneers in history. The Virgin brand is recognised around the world for delivering an incredible customer experience, looking after their people and always seeking to innovate and stay ahead of the competition. The Virgin business model was arguably the genesis of the platform / marketplace model that is so successful globally today. Absolutely I was inspired by my experience at Virgin and hope to bring the ethos of excellence to everything we do at TildaTravel today.

TildaTravel is a new generation innovative, unique and ultimately disruptive model. Integrating the travel and financial services industries in a consumer-centric user experience is a world first, and one we are very proud to pioneer.

Can you tell me a bit more about your FinTech partnerships?

We have partnered with a number of innovative fintechs and continue to seek out the best new people to work with. We are currently working with Insured By Us to develop a unique travel insurance product, which we believe will be the best in the market. Kids go free and policy holders get a free travel SIM to help avoid overseas bill shock. Car hire excess coverage can also be added if you’re hiring a car for the family holiday.  

In 2019 we’ll launch an innovative prepaid travel money wearable system, where one family account or travel money card can be linked to multiple payment wearables. Customers can give their kids wristbands pre loaded with a set level of cash so that they can buy their own ice creams!

We believe that by partnering with fintechs who share our values, we can offer Australian holiday makers an experience they have never had before. If you are going to be successful as a consumer focused business, you have to own, control and deliver a first class customer relationship.

How did TildaTravel come about?

The name comes from my daughter, Matilda. The inspiration for the Tilda Travel platform comes from holidaying with a six year old.  From the anticipation of ‘how many sleeps left?’ to the pure joy of arriving at your destination and exploring with a huge sense of wonder and excitement which I think is It’s something I think we lose as we get older. That really inspired me to take what I have learnt at Thomas Cook Money and create something new and different.

TildaTravel is based in Hobart, Tasmania. It isn’t renowned as a tech startup hub. What made you choose Hobart as your HQ?

My family and I were searching for a better lifestyle and found that Tasmania fitted the bill. Once  here, we fell in love with the place. Tasmania is booming and it’s become one of Australia’s main holiday destinations with tourism and travel being a large part of the Tasmanian economy. We also want to make a contribution to the community, help create jobs and hopefully put Tasmania on the map as a viable place to launch a tech startup.

There was always the question of where and how we would find the talent. But we’ve had no problem in attracting the right skills and caliber of people you need to get a startup off the ground and running.

There’s a great work / life balance in the office, with five full time employees – it’s cosy! Most of the team have spent their careers in banking and tech firms in places like London and Sydney. We are a tech business, which means we’re global and we can work from anywhere, but we all tend to work from the office in Hobart. It takes me nine minutes to get to work!

What are the plans for TildaTravel?

New Zealand is next, planned for the second half of 2019. And early 2020 we plan to launch in Hong Kong and Singapore.

We see huge opportunities across Asia for TildaTravel. If you look at China, consumers expect instant, seamless, highly personalised experiences. We are looking at Asia as a significant market opportunity but also a place for innovation. We are not out to compete in the travel or financial services market; our intention is to create a whole new type of business model – our own market!.

There are great examples of businesses such as AfterPay that have achieved success by targeting the millennial market with a unique and compelling value proposition. For TildaTravel and the team, this is what excites us: technology platforms and access to huge amounts of data enable startups to create entirely new business models specially targeted to specific customers.


Leda Glyptis – 11:FS
Maybe Australia’s proximity to Asia is the game changer. Do Aussie Fintech’s use all their resources taking on the Big 4 banks, or do they put the same energy into Asia?

As CEO of 11:FS Foundry, Leda is at the forefront of innovation in open banking. She’s also Chief of Staff for 11:FS Group, a specialist digital financial services firm that is reinventing what providing advisory, technology and design services to the banking community looks like.

Leda is a renowned speaker, writer and academic in banking and fintech, and an expert in digital disruption, strategy and financial technology. She was recently named in the top 50 Senior Female Leaders in Global Fintech. Tier One People CEO, Dexter Cousins caught up with Leda to talk all things 11:FS and Will.I.am?!

Leda, most people here in Australia know 11:FS through the Fintech Insider podcast. Can you explain how 11:FS work?

At a high level, 11:FS is essentially a set of capabilities united by a common purpose. What do I mean by that? We have structured the business very deliberately around the way customers engage with and purchase financial services in the digital age.

Our business model consists of Media (content, podcast and events), Research and Benchmarking (market, product and competitor analysis), Consulting Services and the Foundry Platform. We build digitally native propositions for banks and financial institutions. As an example, we launched Mettle, an SME challenger proposition delivered for NatWest.

The Executive Leadership Team at 11:FS are ex bankers. Remembering back to when we worked in large banks, when it came to innovation, there would be regular meetings where everyone got excited by the question ‘Wouldn’t it cool if ….?’

Sadly, few if any of the ideas ever came to realisation. 11:FS exists to help financial services firms bring these ideas to life and build entirely new propositions with a digital first approach. We are a completely different kind of consultancy because our focus is on execution. And we spend our client’s money like it was our own, with every single dollar budgeted for up front.

 

Can you tell me more specifically about 11:FS Foundry?

11:FS Foundry is a game changing banking platform we are building in partnership with DNB bank. Today’s banking systems were built in the past and for the past. They worked in their day, but they’re no longer fit for purpose in the digital age. The Royal Commission in Australia highlighted many of the problems legacy systems create for large financial institutions.

Banks are spending billions keeping their legacy architecture on life support rather than truly transforming their services. Why? Because changing a core banking platform is staggeringly expensive, time-consuming and risky. We built 11:FS Foundry to enable banks to modernise systems without needing to replace everything at once. It is a ledger first core banking platform with a modular stack. Which gives technology teams agility and flexibility, they can add modules as and when they need them.

The platform will launch soon. And the partnership with DNB is working beyond our expectations. We are really excited and see huge potential for 11:FS Foundry as we enter a new era of open banking.

 

“Maybe Australia’s proximity to Asia is the game changer. Do Aussie Fintech’s use all their resources taking on the Big 4 banks, or do they put the same energy into Asia?”

 

Australia plans to launch open banking in July this year. What potential opportunities do you see down under?

That is a tough question. Open Banking should, in theory, create more competition. But I think it would be unwise to look at the UK and expect things to play out the same way in Australia.

Australia has 4 banks sharing 85% of the market. That kind of influence makes it very difficult for challenger banks, Neo Banks and Fintechs to pose a significant threat. International banks with deeper pockets have tried and failed to crack the Australian market. It isn’t easy.

Maybe Australia’s proximity to Asia is the game changer. Do Aussie Fintech’s use all their resources taking on the Big 4 banks, or do they put the same energy into Asia? It is a far bigger market. When I was last in Sydney for Sibos, the level of innovation in areas like RegTech, Data and Identity impressed me.

 


 

Many people in the Fintech industry first got to know 11:FS through the Fintech Insider podcast. Has it been key to the rapid growth of the business?

The podcast recently hit 300 episodes. It definitely builds our profile, but it also builds a vibrant community much beyond our brand. In fact, the greatest benefit of the podcast is the community we’ve built. The 11:FS community is global and the show is a great vehicle to share our message. But, if you listen to the podcasts, it is not about us. It is about the people in the industry, it’s about the community, it’s about giving Fintech’s a platform, a voice.

And for people in the banking industry the show helps by cutting through the noise and demystifying what is a confusing period. There is more noise in the industry than ever. Blockchain, AI, Fintech, Crypto, Cyber Security, Open Banking, API’s; Banking executives rightly feel confused. So, the podcast is a platform to share insights, knowledge and ideas.

As an example, we hosted AfterDark, an evening event at Level 39 in London. Over 200 guests turned up. A guest I invited (a highly influential global banker) came to me afterwards and said “I don’t know what impressed me most. The fact that so many people turned up in the awful weather. Or, the fact there are so many influential and heavy hitting people from Banking and Fintech in the room.”

Banking executives clearly want to embrace change and innovation. But they need the right information, insights and strategies. Do they get the right strategies from traditional consultancies? Or do they turn to 11:FS who know Fintech and have built digital banks like Monzo?

We believe that Digital Banking is only 1% finished. There is so much more we can do and are doing for our clients.

 

What attracted you to 11:FS?

The Co-Founders and I had known each other for a couple of years before me coming on board. We would regularly bump into each other at industry events or when I was a guest on the Fintech Insider podcast. It was clear we shared similar views on how digital banking should be done.

So, when David approached me, it just seemed like a natural next step. He is an inspiring leader and he has created a simple culture and philosophy that resonates. Importantly for me, it’s a high-performance culture, modelled on sports, teamwork and winning. But it is not a ‘win at all costs’ mentality. We have one golden rule ‘don’t be a dick’. It sounds simple, but regularly reminding ourselves of this one sentence nips arguments and politics in the bud.

At 11:FS I get to work with and meet amazing people. Had you told me a year ago I would get to interview Will.I.am, I’d have laughed. The velocity at which we are moving is unlike anything I have experienced.

 

Which people tend to be successful at 11:FS?

People with principles, passion and positivity. This is a high-performance culture where we work on outcomes and results. You have to believe in a particular way of working. We work in small teams, taking the sports team philosophy by bringing together people with complimentary technical skills and ability. We’ve assembled experienced banking, fintech and insurance leaders, alongside outstanding talent from start-ups, consultancies and agencies.

11:FS is unlike anywhere I have ever worked. It has been a wild ride so far. I joined 11:FS in September 2018. On day two I flew to Oslo to meet the DNB team and pick up my part of the negotiations that led to our current partnership. The negotiations were at an advanced stage when I came on board and it was great to have the team’s faith to jump right in.

This past 6 months have been the most exhilarating of my career.

A lot of people could find it daunting. People in Banking tend to think Fintech is sexy, fun, innovative. But the reality can be very different. It’s extremely tough work. We are at the leading edge of innovation, so most times it feels like we are building the plane as we are flying it.

We have an eclectic bunch here. Creatives, marketers, product, tech. Smart and driven people. We are now 150 staff and growing fast. A lot of people approach us direct because they follow the podcast, get excited by the work we do and feel a connection. But we are just like any rapidly scaling business. We need a measured approach to Talent Acquisition and it is hard to find the right people when you are growing at scale. We are always open to people approaching us if they share our philosophy.

 


 

Check out Careers @ 11:FS

 


 

Leda, people consider you an ‘Influencer’ in fintech and you write regularly sharing advice. Who has been the greatest influence on your career?

First of all let me say, I find it an honour people read my work. But it’s my belief that you influence by doing, not by talking. The greatest influence on my career is Adriana Pierelli, my old mentor at BNY Mellon. She was the person who backed me when I launched the innovation division at BNY. At the time it felt like everyone was mocking me as I got excited by APIs and the possibilities they could bring to the business. Adriana believed. And opened the door for me to prove myself. All we need is an opportunity and a little bit of faith. And she gave me both. There are two life lessons I took from Adriana.

1)      Practical Impact. You must make things happen.

2)      Pay things forward.

It is so important to help people along the journey. To give your time, advice, connections. The platform I have been given is a privilege, meaning I can help more people than ever. That is the great thing about the 11:FS tribe. The Fintech Insiders show takes a lot of time, energy, money and resources to produce. But we do it for free because we truly believe in paying things forward and making digital banking better.

 


 

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Martin McCann – Trade Ledger

2019 was a breakthrough year for Trade Ledger. 2020 promises to be even bigger as open banking creates the perfect set of conditions for the Trade Ledger platform to take off.

Dexter Cousins of Tier One People caught up with CEO and Co-Founder Martin McCann in Sydney recently to talk open banking and Lending as a Service.

 

What kind of FinTech is Trade Ledger?

Trade Ledger is a banking platform technology designed to help banks and large non-bank lenders provide any type of credit to businesses and corporations around the world.

We have built a global platform, technology which can be instantly deployed in any country. Matt Born (co-founder) and I come from Enterprise Technology backgrounds. Trade Ledger came into being because we both wanted build what we call a ‘true platform’. We see a lot of FinTech’s claiming to provide platforms which in our view are nothing more than technology stacks for a specific product. These are not true industry platforms.

Enterprise Software, which is essentially what we do, is one of the most complex and difficult markets in business. We’ve been building Trade Ledger for a market which didn’t even exist when we set up the company. Globally the market we operate in is estimated as a $4 Trillion opportunity. Just the undersupply of credit for businesses globally is $2 trillion. That is the extent to which businesses are underserved with lending and capital. We call it ‘Lending as a Service.’ Nobody used the term when we set the business up two-and-half years ago.

 

Can you tell me how LaaS works?

Essentially LaaS is the outsourcing of the IT and operational requirements for the bank when it comes to lending. Typically, for a business to apply to a bank anywhere in the world for a line credit the average time to process the application is 90 days.

There’s about 30 hours of manual work for the customer plus 300 emails and 500 calls involved.

Trade Ledger eliminates the manual processes using API’s and accessing the banks data, completing the whole process in four minutes without a single document filled out.

 

What do you attribute to your success so far?

Matt and I followed our own path when we started the business. Trade ledger was incorporated in August 2016 and we were supremely confident we were building the right solution at the right time for the right market. Joining forces is the first thing we got right. What Matt, the team and I are doing is really, really hard and you need at least two co-founders to tackle all of the challenges ahead.

The combination of us working together has proven to be a real positive for the company and our personal lives. Matt and I both have extensive experience in enterprise software. We both worked at SAP and we witnessed software disruption in other sectors, it was only a matter of time before the same would happen in banking.

The blueprint was already there from other industries, it was just a case of applying the strategy to the right niche. Forming our partnership, our timing and product market fit are the keys to our success so far.

Discover your next challenge – https://tieronepeople.com/jobs-in-fintech/

Can you tell me more about the Trade Ledger business?

The business is now over 20 people, evenly split between London and Sydney. We’ve almost doubled the size of the company in the last three to four months. We are delighted with the ‘firepower’ we have hired into the business.

Firstly, we managed to find really high calibre senior engineers, the kind of people we think are potential game changers. In London, we’ve hired a CFO who is highly respected in the VC community. He will help turbo charge the growth of the business. We are embarking on Series A funding, having a CFO of the calibre we have is essential.

All this adds to the great talent we already have.

We don’t want a development center, and operational offices, we’re trying to keep uniformity across the offices. Fundamentally I believe three things will give Trade Ledger long-term differentiation, in the market-place.

The people in the organisation

The culture of the organisation

And what I call the velocity, are we moving fast enough in the right direction?

I don’t know if we are moving fast enough in the right direction yet, but we are accelerating.

 

What makes the culture of Trade Ledger unique?

The culture is very important to us. Matt and I have almost identical values and business ethics. Transparency is key to us, in terms of our business relationships and our people. We firmly believe when you’re trying to grow something this new, this quickly, you are going to break things, frequently.

It’s what you do when you realise you’re going in the wrong direction, or you’ve broken something which counts. And recognising which things you can break and what you absolutely have to get right.

Living by this ethos creates a culture of high performance which is the edge for a company like ours. Frankly, the banks struggle to attract the kind of people required for a high growth, exciting tech startup like Trade Ledger.

So, banks will have to partner with Fintech’s to access the talent, innovation and execution required for this next paradigm of business we are entering. Big organisations just cannot achieve the velocity required to keep up with the pace of innovation today.

 

What do you look for in the people you hire?

Primarily values and attitude. We don’t focus on people’s experience or their background, we focus on whether or not they would fit well with the team or will they be disruptive in the team. We love diversity. It does cause some challenges. The nature of diversity means it’s harder to evaluate how someone will fit, in the context of values and ethics.

And then the other thing we look for is high potential or high propensity for success. What we’ve found is interesting. People who are under-experienced, properly motivated and show high potential are a much better fit for this organisation than people who’ve got proven experience.

People with high potential fit our culture and the way we work. They want to get ahead quickly, they appreciate the opportunity to be able to contribute and to learn. And they understand the value it creates for them as an asset that differentiates them in the market.

 


 

Trade Ledger

 

 


 

What prompted your move to London?

A good question. Can I say, it’s really nice to be back in Sydney in the heat. From our perspective, Sydney is a great place to start a company. There’s a lot of benefits to be found in the FinTech ecosystem but there are limitations.

The market itself is relatively small, compared to other markets globally. With our ambition to be a global software company, we don’t see significant market penetration in Australia. Banks in Europe and North America don’t see Australia as a market with enough scale, so it is difficult to get credibility as a global player being based from Sydney.

Why choose London? After some consideration and research, the legislative changes in Europe and open banking in the UK made London the ideal launch pad for the Trade Ledger platform.

There’s massive investment from the banking sector in open banking technology, which from our perspective, is just API-based platform technology. The most innovative global bank transformation programs are happening in London. Lloyds alone has five transformation programs running, which, have a multi-year program budget of over 2.5 billion pounds. That’s the scale of transformation technology that’s happening in Europe and it’s hard to find anything comparable happening anywhere in Australia.

If we want to be a global company, we have to win the European market and more specifically the London market. Open banking, GDPR and other legislative changes have created a seismic shift to data-driven lending in the business bank and SME funding market-place.

 

The UK is now 12 months into open banking. What are the potential opportunities here in Australia?

The UK market has been really interesting, and for us, it’s great to have a ring-side seat to the first real implementation of open banking.

Year one was all about fixing the problems with the original scope, specification and approach to open banking. It went live late and there were a couple of issues with the implementation.

The challenge is shifting a heavily regulated market to a technology-driven business model in a record amount of time, it’s never been done before. All of the interested parties are struggling to keep up.

The regulators are finding it particularly difficult to figure out what to do when things go wrong. Liability, specifically the daisy chaining of liability and how to manage it, is turning out to be a significant problem. I think everyone has underestimated how big a shift this was going to be.

Discover your next challenge – https://tieronepeople.com/jobs-in-fintech/

What can Australia learn from UK Open Banking?

Australia being number two into open banking is perfectly positioned to come up with the best capability in the world. It is a highly ambitious plan to implement open data across all industries. Conceptually this is where the market needs to go to.

The Australian market has perhaps underestimated the difficulty of implementation challenges. Something of this scale needs a very strong governance process. It needs to have a very, very high degree of consultation with all of the stakeholder groups.

My fear is the original scope could be thwarted, and open data never actually achieves the ambition outlined in the original agenda. Specifically creating competition in banking.

I wrote an article outlining my fears, published in the AFR. From the feedback I received, maybe people misunderstood my intention. I do not advocate any particular solution, Trade Ledger will prosper regardless of what Open Banking journey Australia chooses. I feel strongly that we need to have the right discussion about the national interest, because this is a once-in-a-generational opportunity Australia can’t afford to get wrong.

If Australia gets open banking right, it is my firm belief we can export financial services to other countries on a scale rivalling the mining industry. And if we get it wrong, then the opposite is true. Digital financial services does not observe national borders. Regulation, which once protected national markets has now become a grey area.

 

What does the future hold for Trade Ledger?

We are in advanced discussions with significant global banks. It is a distinct change in strategy for us. There is a much higher risk involved and a lot more investment up front.

If Trade Ledger is to become what we intended from day one, a global top three in the category, then it’s the direction we need to go in. We don’t shy away from risk or challenges, we embrace them, and we work harder, faster, and smarter to try and move in the direction we want to go.

 

Discover your next challenge – https://tieronepeople.com/jobs-in-fintech/

Andy Taylor – Douugh

We are laser focused on building a ‘smart’ banking experience that will change people’s relationship with money for the better – fostering financial wellness.

Andy Taylor – CEO, Dough.

Andy Taylor is an Aussie FinTech pioneer. He is one of the original founders of Society One, bringing peer to peer lending to the Australian market. Andy’s latest venture, Douugh is his most ambitious project yet, a next gen Neo Bank with an AI first approach. Set to launch in the US through a partnership with Choice Bank, Douugh announced a partnership with Regional Australia Bank just this week.

Tier One People CEO, Dexter Cousins brings you this exclusive interview!

What does ‘next gen’ Neobank mean?

Unlike ‘traditional’ Neobanks, who are taking a mobile first approach and applying for their own banking licences to sell traditional bank products. Douugh is a technology company taking an AI first approach to building a proprietary software platform, partnering with a bank to provide it with deposit taking capabilities and a balance sheet. The company is pioneering a new business model focused around delivering financial wellness for it’s customers.

Is it a similar arrangement to your partnership in the US with Choice Bank?

Correct, it allows us to offer a fully insured bank account and Mastercard debit card, without the need to become a licenced bank ourselves. This frees us up to focus on building out a technology company, innovating on the customer experience software layer through an AI first approach, utilising open API’s.

How did the partnership come about? Was it difficult to find/select the right partner?

It’s been very difficult and time consuming to find the right partner in Australia. We wanted to find someone who respected our independence, shared our values and capable of supporting our ambitious product and growth plans.

Just so I don’t explain it incorrectly … would a Douugh customer in Australia be opening an account with Regional Australia Bank? Can you explain the arrangement to me in layman’s terms please?

Correct, it’s ultimately a wholesale partnership. The Douugh branded bank account will be ‘issued’ by Regional Australia Bank on the backend, customers funds will be held by them, protected by the government guarantee on deposits upto $250,000. The entire customer experience is managed by us through our mobile app and customer support centre.

This is a similar commercial partnership model to what Up has with Bendigo Bank. Meaning, we act as an ‘authorised representative’ of a bank, rather than getting our own banking licence. The partnership with RAB is very much the missing piece. The ability to offer a fully insured bank account and debit card means we can now launch in Australia.

Do you expect HENRYs (High Earner Not Rich Yet) to migrate away from Big Four banks to Douugh?

We do expect people to dip their toe in the water initially to test our technology and gauge the impact it will have on their daily lives. I think we will need to work hard to win the right to people’s salary deposits. We believe people will hold multiple bank accounts in the future.

The battle ground is winning the right to the salary deposit and everyday expenditure. We do allow customers to connect their existing bank accounts and credit cards, so we can give them a 360 degree view to truly understand their financial position. This is where the strategy of becoming the ‘financial control centre’ for our customers becomes very important.

Why do you think Douugh will appeal particularly to this demographic?

We are laser focused on building a ‘smart’ banking experience that will change people’s relationship with money for the better – fostering financial wellness.

People now expect transparency, insight, personalisation and autonomy. They want to understand the opportunity cost of their financial decisions today and what it means for their future, delivered through a seamless, intuitive and frictionless experience.

Banks today do not offer this. They are analogue in their offering, and are not incentivised to offer this kind of service and business model, as they are bogged down by legacy systems and operational models, totally reliant on pushing traditional credit products to deliver short-term profitability, as opposed to generating positive financial outcomes for their customers, taking a longer term view.

People are now aware of this (as exposed by the Royal Commission), and are looking to technology to help them. We believe this sentiment is consistent around the world.

And is that the same for the US and Australia?

Ultimately, it’s about understanding people’s emotional drivers. Money is one of the most powerful forces behind emotional state of mind, and the majority of people’s relationship with money is based on fear and anxiety. We plan to tap into this in a positive way and change the narrative, supporting and educating our customers to get ahead and achieve their goals. So, they can live happier and healthier lives. Rather than be bogged down, living paycheck to paycheck .

This is where we see our AI assistant Sophie really playing a positive role and forever changing the game. Taking on the responsibility of a frictionless, autonomous money manager. Working on behalf of our customers to make money work for them, not the other way around.

We believe this will have a major and lasting impact on society as a whole. This is the legacy I want to leave behind.

Douugh Smart Banking

 

Do you have any indication yet of likely demand for Douugh?

We have strong demand in the US from the little marketing and PR we have done, with thousands of people signed up to our waitlist.

We have started to raise our awareness in Australia via our partnership with Crowdfunding platform Equitise. We aim to build a foundation community. With thousands signed up on our waitlist so far. We will look to ramp up our pre-launch marketing efforts from here on in.

Are we likely to see the Australian accounts open this year? Is there a sense of urgency with other neo banks on the scene?

We are targeting a late Q4 launch this year. Yes the space is hotting up, and we are keen to cut our teeth in this market because it is our home, and we believe Australia (like the US), has a very big problem to solve in terms of the spiralling household debt levels and overall financial health.

Importantly, we view Australia as a key strategic market for R&D purposes, as it is continues to lead the way in mobile payment adoption in the western world.

Is it hard to explain to potential customers the unique selling point of Douugh versus other options? What is the main hook you think that will get people over the line?

Not really, I believe it is much easier for us as we don’t need to get distracted by the fact that we are wanting to be a bank. Becoming a bank does not solve the problem. We have a much more succinct, purpose based marketing message and mission than other ‘Neobanks’.

The hook is that we are looking to pioneer a new business model to make the world financially healthier through a proprietary software platform. We are helping people pay off debt, spend less, save and build wealth autonomously via a ‘smart’ bank account offering, powered by AI.

How is the crowdfunding going? Why did you go via the crowdfunding route rather than the more commonly used VC route?

The crowdfunding is going really well, demand is strong. We wanted to use it as a vehicle to attract a foundation customer base and community in Australia that are passionate about our cause and business. We see this as a better fit at this stage in our lifecycle.

We are on a path to list on the ASX this year, this funding round will allow us to staff up to launch and scale the US business.

How do you view the potential for Douugh in comparison to when you when you founded SocietyOne?

We see much bigger potential for Douugh, as we are operating this as a global banking platform from day one, beginning in the US. The opportunity is obviously significantly larger as we scale up in this market and beyond. Everyone needs a bank account!

We truly believe we can scale to reach 100 million customers by 2030 and we are motivated to show the world that Australia can produce world class consumer technology companies.

Does this feel like unfinished business for you in any way, as SocietyOne came along with a mission to knock the majors off their perches.

Very much so. I’ve always been driven to build a global consumer software company that structurally disrupts the status quo. The mission was always to provide consumers a better experience than offered by the banks, with a business model that is aligned to positive financial outcomes. With Douugh, we are building a product that is co-created with customers from a passionate community.

11:FS talks Aus FinTech

If you aren’t following 11:FS then you simply ain’t into FinTech. A game changing digital consultancy for Banks and FS, a ground breaking banking platform in Foundry and publishers of the #1 Podcast FinTech Insider.

In the latest episode, a cheeky question by our very own Dexter Cousins sparked a healthy debate on the emerging Australian FinTech scene. Hosts David M. Brear, Jason Bates and Sarah Kocianski share some interesting views. What is undisputed is the world is taking notice of Aus FinTech!

AWESOME – listen to the podcast

Douugh partners with Bank

Our friends at Douugh, made a major announcement signing a long-term strategic partnership agreement with Regional Australia Bank.  The bank will become Douugh’s sponsor bank partner in Australia and challenge the dominance of the ‘Big Four’ banks.

On a mission to democratise banking globally, Douugh is building a ‘smart’ bank account designed to help customers live financially healthier, thanks to Sophie – its AI personal financial assistant. The agreement with Regional Australia Bank follows a global strategic innovation partnership announcement with Mastercard at the end of 2018 and a sophisticated raise on leading Equity Crowdfunding platform Equitise which remains live until February.

Douugh’s smart mobile banking app, will offer a Mastercard debit card and suite of everyday banking functionality, as well as multiple enhanced and unique features – focused on helping users pay off debt, spend less, save and build wealth. Sophie offers real time insights and guidance, learning how you spend money and understanding your goals to help you get ahead.

AI Powered Neo Banking

Currently in beta testing in the U.S, Douugh is gearing up for rapid growth. Launching first in the U.S market next month, with Australia set to follow later in the year. Douugh is fast becoming one of Australia’s most promising international fintechs.

“We are thrilled to be partnering with Regional Australia Bank, who share our cultural values and vision on helping Australians become financially healthier”, says Andy Taylor, Douugh’s Founder & CEO.

With an initial focus on the global millennial market, Taylor believes the sweet spot of the Millennial demographic for early adoption of Douugh, are the HENRY (High Earner Not Rich Yet) segment.

“This segment is ready to plan for their future and start accumulating wealth. This is where Douugh can educate and automate their finances, and alleviate the stress involved. Helping them live financially healthy by still enjoying the now while planning for their future,” he said.

“We believe the future of banking is about platform, data and identity. Our ultimate goal is to become the financial control centre, where people’s finances are managed on autopilot.

“Technology and the pioneering of a new platform based business model, will be the key differentiators in winning customers from the major banks and it will be the true fintechs with global scale that will ultimately be best placed to capture market share in the long-term,” says Taylor.

Regional Australia Bank CEO Kevin Dupé says, “Douugh has a big focus on customer financial well-being and this aligns perfectly with our approach. With our industry continuing to evolve at pace, we are excited to be partnering with Douugh and help take such a cutting edge technology platform to market”.

Douugh is currently closing out a $5m crowdfunding offer to wholesale investors on the Equitise platform. For more information visit www.equitise.com

Watch out for our exclusive and in depth interview with Douugh founder FinTech NextGen 012 – Andy Taylor

FinTech Talent Hot Spots in 2019

 

2019 is shaping up to be a HUGE year for FinTech in Australia. But where is all the FinTech Talent to help you grow your business?

Together with our partners, clients and good old market research we have compiled a list of the most in demand skills. FinTech startups can’t match the salaries of well capitalised businesses and often struggle to hire the talent they need. We have excluded startup data from our research and have focussed on companies with 50 plus people and capital in excess of $10m.

Sales Directors.

Banking and Financial Services Software companies have big plans in 2019. Established banks will look to defend their position as Australia goes Neo Bank crazy. Large international players now see Australia as a major strategic play as open banking puts Australia on the map for innovation.

New banks means new clients requiring core banking systems, lending platforms, security, CRM, Analytics. An endless list!

Sadly, there is a serious lack of sales talent out there. Expect to pay $180,000 as a base salary for anyone with 5 years-experience enterprise software/SaaS sales. But don’t expect too much in return for your money. Most sales people change companies every 12 – 18 months. In an environment where deals can take anywhere from 6 -18 months to complete, even at $180,000 you won’t get a deal closer.

If you are looking to grow your FinTech business by hiring someone who can close deals with Banks and Financial Institutions, expect to fork out $220,000 plus bonus, benefits and LTI, if you want to see results. Take a look at this advert as an example.

Head of Partnerships.

FinTech’s with a B2B or B2B2C model require Account Directors who can win new business and act as the link between the tech team and client. So, they created the Head of Partnerships role.

Part Business Development, part Account Management, to secure the best people for this type of role you are looking $180,000 – $200,000 plus bonuses/benefits.

As this is a fairly new role to the Australian market, talent from advertising and media agencies can often present the best skills match. Alternatively we find talent from the US and UK are accustomed to this model and will often make the best hires.

Chief Growth Officer.

Are the days of the CMO numbered, a slow death by 1000 (job) cuts? Marketing today is all about growth – ROI and the numbers don’t lie!

Sales and Marketing, especially in B2B models is returning back to its origins, one integrated and seamless function. The revenue generating engine room of the business. The challenge lies in finding people with a broad base of experience, that encompasses Product, Sales Pipeline, Digital Marketing, PR and Brand.

$225,000 plus super and bonuses is the starting point for a capable CGO who will deliver results. Expect to pay more depending on the size and scale of the role.

Senior Product Managers.

Judging by the feedback from clients and the market, it seems many FinTech’s are considering a pivot or growth into new markets. We have held a number of discussions over the last 90 days with clients looking for a similar profile. A Head of Product Development who can change Product teams focused on process ( and who seem convinced that applying Agile methodology solves everything) into product development teams shipping product that sells.

The right person typically comes from an engineering background. They break the mould by demonstrating commercial acumen/results and an ability to change the behaviours and beliefs of product teams.

Expect to pay anywhere from $180,000 plus benefits and bonus for this type of person. Our research suggests they will be in big demand 2019, no doubt the figure will rise.

Cyber Security.

As the challenger banks officially launch in 2019, the thing that keeps CEO’s awake at night (apart from trying to get a license) is security. Ironically, the best Cyber Security people I know don’t class themselves as Cyber Security specialists. They are risk experts.

If you are on the hunt for a Cyber Security specialist expect to pay big dollars. Or go to the source, Eastern Europe and hire the people who are your potential threat!

Developers and Engineers.

No change there, each year it gets harder. I heard Google recently paid an engineer in London a $3m salary. Expect to pay what you have to pay to get the right person. It is extreme, but we have plans underway to help the FinTech community access top development talent on reasonable salaries!

Data Science.

AI continues to be the buzzword of 2019. Will it follow the same path as Blockchain? Business leaders are beginning to recognise the limitations of Ai and the potential business issues it can cause.

Instead of replacing humans, the buzzword of 2019 will be ‘augmentation’ as we seek to automate mundane tasks. The emphasis will be on machine learning. Hardly ground breaking, we have been doing that in the workplace since the industrial revolution!

Still, a great data scientist will cost around $150,000 in 2019. And if you want a genuine AI/ML specialist, our research team is scouring the universities and colleges around the world.

Finally ….

If you want to change the game in 2019, you need to hire game changers. There is no work around! For practical advice on attracting and hiring the very best FinTech Talent contact Dexter Cousins

 

David Washbrook Look Who's Charging
David Washbrook – Look Who’s Charging

Look Who’s Charging had a stellar 2018 with numerous awards, accolades such as featuring in KPMG’s FinTech 100 and commercial success with two of the Big 4 Aussie banks becoming customers. Sibos and Money 20/20 helped put Look Who’s Charging on the global FinTech map.

Tier One People’s Dexter Cousins talks with Co-Founder David Washbrook to talk about a fine year and a Vegas road trip!

What is Look Who’s Charging?

Look Who’s Charging is all about improving the customer experience through enriching bank statement transactions. Everyone has experienced the issue. You look at your bank statement and half the time it may as well be written in foreign language. You see C&A WALKER PTY LIMITED, for example. A Google search brings up hundreds of businesses none of which you recognise.

So, you phone your bank. Twenty minutes on hold, verify yourself, bounce between two or three different departments, and at the end of all of that, more often than not the bank can’t do anything other than a Google search themselves. In fact, two of the Big Four bank’s contact centres don’t even have access to Google.

It is a very frustrating problem for the consumer, leaving them feeling genuinely worried that they might be subject to fraud. It’s also a very expensive problem for banks. Ten percent of all the calls to a banks contact centre relate to queries on unrecognised transactions. Sixty percent result in manual chargebacks, costing a bank around $80-$90 dollars for each one.

We improve the customer experience and save banks millions of dollars in costs through reduced calls and chargebacks.

How did you come up with the idea for the solution?

It was two-fold.  My fellow Co-Founder, Stuart, was running a separate business at the time.  He became increasingly frustrated with trying to reconcile his accounts due to the large number of confusing descriptions (most small accounting packages use bank statement data).

At the same time, I inadvertently committed a friendly fraud. I disputed a transaction with my bank as didn’t recognise the merchant. I genuinely thought it was a fraud. I got my money back for the transaction which later turned out to be legitimate.

We did some further research and we quickly realised that unrecognised transactions were a big issue for consumers and also a very expensive problem for banks.  Australian banks alone are spending somewhere in the region of $200m a year dealing with the problem.

Your solution sounds so simple. Why is it that nobody’s done this before?

A lot of Fintech businesses can often be complex to explain. You are correct in that ours is very simple. However, solving the problem is far from simple. Lots of people have tried before. We know big banks who have tried; large software companies who have tried; other Fintechs who have tried.

They throw a team of people at it, work on the problem as a project, get something that is fifty, sixty percent of the way there, but unless you’re maintaining the data, staying on top of it, it quickly becomes redundant.  Our senior team has over 80 years’ experience working in IT and on big data problems, and this is by far the most complex problem any of us have ever come across.

The idea is not new but being able to execute on the idea, that’s where we have achieved something that no one else has managed to.  We return over 180 different fields on a merchant and our accuracy is >95%.  Most other offerings simply return one field (being category) and the accuracy is far lower than us.  Banks are pushing our data to one of the most important consumer touch points being the transaction feed of digital applications; they have to have trust and confidence in our product.

Our solution has three core components, all using proprietary market first technology:

Merchant database. We have compiled a database of the 1.3m card accepting merchants in Australia.  Over 1m lines of code and we draw on over 150 different data sources to ensure we always have the most up to date information.

To solve the problem you need to understand both the legal entity information and trading entity information for a merchant.  Some businesses out there know the legal entity information of a company, and some know the trading entity information, but from what we can tell we are the first business to build a complete legal and trading view of a merchant.

Search engine. We have developed a proprietary search engine to match the 20m+ transactions descriptions (per debit and credit card statements) back to this database of 1.3m card accepting merchants.

Robust architecture. Our robust architecture enables our data to be pushed to bank’s digital applications in real time.  Our API can return data on up to 50 transactions in less than 30ms.

Most importantly you need a solution that solves a genuine customer pain point, saves the bank money or improves regulatory compliance.  Tick two or three of these boxes and your chances of working with a bank significantly improve.

But you also have to have the correct governance, compliance and risk management protocols in place to pass their security and procurement checks.

You’ve partnered with NAB. How difficult is it to partner with a Big 4 bank?

First conversation to go-live with NAB took seven months for us, which was fantastic, especially as they were our first customer.  NAB had identified the problem of unrecognised transactions as a top consumer pain point and one that was costly for the bank.  We offered a unique, market-first solution and NAB was able to move quickly to bring this to their customers.

In general the sales cycle with a big bank, or any bank for that matter, is relatively long.  Most importantly you need a solution that solves a genuine customer pain point, saves the bank money or improves regulatory compliance.  Tick two or three of these boxes and your chances of working with a bank significantly improve.

But you also have to have the correct governance, compliance and risk management protocols in place to pass their security and procurement checks. You can have the best product in the world but if you don’t have the right risk management procedures in place then you won’t go-live with a bank. The Hayne Commission and recent high-profile data breaches from companies such as Equifax, British Airways and Marriot-Starwood Hotels make it increasingly harder.

Finally, you must make your solution as easy as possible for a bank to integrate with. Our solution is at the easier end of the spectrum, but it’s still a lot of work for a bank to integrate with a third-party. If your solution is going deep into banking systems, even if it’s the greatest product in the world, it makes it a much harder task to partner with a bank.


Gaining recognition in the KPMG Fintech 100, has that had a noticeable impact on being able to attract talent and clients?

Absolutely. It has been a really good win for us, especially as we were selected without even applying. We’ve been fielding a lot of inbound inquiries from all around the world after the report was published.  I think we were one of only seven Australian companies to make the list.

We’re almost at thirty people now, twelve people onshore and another fifteen people offshore. We will continue to hire people in 2019. The decision has been made to draw on the best expertise from people around the world as there is a lot of complexity to our solution. Finding the skills onshore can sometimes be challenging; machine learning, AI, the search components of our architecture. We’ve developed a hybrid model with three very senior developers onshore managing the specialist skill sets from around the world and bringing everything together to make the solution work.

Culture becomes a critically important element in growing a business, and the culture is really determined by the quality of people that you hire.  If you have a start-up with some traction, you’re building something exciting and people can get involved with growing the business, it’s generally very appealing to great talent, especially with the buzz around tech at the moment.

Tier One People Fintech Head HuntersYou recently presented on stage at Money 20/20 in Las Vegas.  How was that experience?

Money 20/20 brought together over 15,000 people from leading Banks and FinTech companies from around the World in Las Vegas during the final week of October. We were lucky enough to get a spot on stage and a stand at Money 20/20. Look Who’s Charging was selected, as one of only 24 companies, out of over 800 from around the globe, to pitch on centre stage.  If you’re a tech business you really have to think globally from day one. Money 20/20 provided the perfect springboard to explore off-shore expansion.

Immediately after our presentation there was a long line of companies queuing at our stand up saying ‘we need this in the market. No one is focused on the problem.’ The greatest interest came from Canada and the UK, they’re a bit more advanced with digital banking than the U.S.

What’s your perception of the Australian FinTech market compared to the US?

We expected to go to Money 20/20 and find 10 other companies doing what we do. However, despite a high demand for transaction enrichment, we were unable to find any company who has or is trying to provide a solution quite like ours.

More generally in the banking and the payment space it seems that the U.S. is definitely lagging Australia.  For example, we have contactless payments rolled out across the country.  I personally haven’t taken cash out in Australia since 2017 and I haven’t had any problems. I solely rely on my phone and my watch now.

The U.S. still primarily has legacy infrastructure where you have swipe your card, sign, and show ID to verify your signature.  A number of merchants also still don’t accept card payments.  This makes it much harder to enact behavioural change and get people to switch to a digital wallet.

The environment in Australia is the perfect testing ground for financial services companies to get their product to market. If you can perfect your product here, there’s a massive opportunity to then launch in the U.S. and other markets like Europe.

However, I think that we have got to go to them because they’re generally not coming to Australia to find out about us.  The support is there for Australian FinTechs to expand, for example, Austrade’s Global Landing Pads and the recent UK FinTech Bridge.  In addition, if you have a product in market, and that product is scalable, you shouldn’t have any issues raising money in the markets like the U.S.

What growth plans are there for 2019?

We are super excited about the coming 12 months.  We’re making good progress in the Australian market having on-boarded two of the big four banks and a number of small banks. This will remain our number one priority in the short term.

There’s also a growing number of use cases for the technology – enriching transactions within digital banking applications is just the tip of the iceberg.  For example, one of the top findings from The Hayne Commission was that banks are generally good at verifying income on loan applications but that they were generally poor with expense verification.  Our technology can quickly and easily automate the verification of both income and expenses to a high-degree of accuracy.

Overseas expansion definitely remains our longer-term goal.  We’ll likely look to expand into the Canadian and U.K. markets next as they are similar in nature and size to Australia. We’re very excited by that prospect and opportunity.


 

George Lucas – Raiz Invest

Raiz Invest (previously Acorns Australia) launched in 2016, quickly amassing close to one million users.

George Lucas, CEO is one of the more experienced founders in the FinTech NextGen series. Many CEO’s in financial services struggle to relate to the Millennial market, not so George and his Raiz Invest team. Discover his secrets in this interview with Dexter Cousins of Tier One People.


How does Raiz Invest work?

George: Raiz Invest is a micro investing platform, enabling users to invest in the markets with as little as five dollars all through an app on your mobile phone. Put simply, we enable users to save in the background of life. Raiz educates a potential investor setting aside the misconception that investing and financial planning is too difficult to get involved in.

We have created multiple ways for our users to save and invest. The first way is through a lump sum investment, you can deposit money into the investment account at any time. The second way is to set up a savings plan or a recurring investment, where an automatic payment goes into the account. The third way is the round up feature which we have become well known for.

The round up feature tracks your spending on your debit cards, bank accounts, et cetera and rounds up transactions to the nearest dollar. If you spend $3.50 on a coffee, 50 cents is invested into your Raiz account. People can start saving without having to think about or setting savings goals. It just happens in the background as you get on with life.

How was the idea for Raiz born?

George: The traditional way of investing requires 5000 dollars to get started. You need to complete a load of forms, pay for advice, find a broker. We wanted to simplify the process, reduce the inertia people experience when making investment decisions and make saving and investing super simple.

The plan from day one was to create something where a customer could invest as little as five dollars, sign up, in minutes through a mobile phone and access their savings whenever they wanted.

Back in 2014 we started explaining the concept to people and felt we had something special. Once people began registering for the pre-beta testing, the feedback we received was even more encouraging. People loved being able to invest for as little as five dollars. The ability to link accounts, round up spending and invest automatically resonated particularly with the millennial generation.

We officially launched in February 2016 in Australia, as Acorns. In the lead up to the launch, we were extremely busy building the software, applying for licenses, developing the product and platform security. It’s a big job. And we wanted to ensure the product we launched was fully functional. We were still just a start-up of three people when we launched.


How have you managed to tap into the notoriously difficult to penetrate Millennial market?

George: We’ve simplified the choices and made investing accessible to everyone. The product has gained a lot of traction with Millennials, more than 900,000 people have downloaded the app and we are managing more than $250 million in funds.

By simplifying the choices, making it very easy to sign up and offering round ups, investing is hassle free. But we have also developed a lot of loyalty within our customer base. That is one of the coolest things, how engaged our customers are with the app. Engagement is key and we are always listening to our customers.

As an example, a customer requested a socially responsible investment option, so we created one for them with the Emerald portfolio. If you look at our product development releases to date, some examples being Raiz Kids, Raiz Rewards, My Finance and most recently Raiz Super, it has all been driven by our customers.

Maybe the difficulties other finance companies experience tapping into the Millennial market are self-inflicted? Let’s face it, Financial Services in Australia is heavily dominated by middle-aged men. We have seen several instances in the last twelve months where young people feel the people in power are out of touch with the modern world.

Rather than lecturing our customers on whether they should spend their money on Avo and Toast, we are providing them with the tools to save for a home deposit, or a holiday, or their kids school fees. Millennials are no different to any other customer. Just listen, give them what they need and treat them with respect.

Raiz Invest Round ups

The roundups feature has been a big hit with Millennial market, enabling users to save and invest without thinking.


What have been your greatest challenges since launching?

George: When you offer investment products geared towards savings it is best to have a conservative investment strategy. But when there are market downturns it can present challenges. The major banks in Australia have tried to make life difficult for us, as we are disrupting a market they probably didn’t know existed.

Despite the challenges, we’ve built an ASX listed Investment business with a young team of only 16 permanent staff, this includes 4 developers, 4 customer support team members, the rest of our team are across marketing, research, and operations. We outsource when we need to as the workflow and demand isn’t linear.

For want of a better word, Raiz Invest is an agile organisation. And so being an agile organisation also means we have a very flat structure. We have managed so far to maintain a high level of customer experience even though we run lean. But that’s because the machine is very automated. We are not encumbered by legacy systems and outdated technology.

Our people seem to enjoy the challenges of a FinTech startup. It’s very laid back, no one comes in to work in a suit and tie, we’re not that type of financial services organisation. It’s a very young business, most our people are under the age of 30. And they seem to be laughing a lot, so they can’t be that unhappy!

At the end of the day, there have been many challenges and it has not exactly been easy. We had to make sure we had a clear marketing plan to acquire customers in line with the highly regulated industry. And at the same time, we had to make sure we had enough funding.


Raiz listed on the ASX earlier this year. What made you chose the IPO route?

George: This is a great question. There are many reasons why we chose the IPO route. It has brought many benefits but there are drawbacks to listing too. In October 2017 we began discussions to significantly reduce the share-holding of our American partners (Acorns Inc.) and rebrand. The plan was always to list, it was just a matter of when.

We had been operating almost as a separate company from day one and the JV limited our scope to expand. As I am sure you know, technology is moving fast and therefore we as a FinTech company must move even faster. The decision to list was made to deliver on the growth plans for Raiz. As a nimble fast moving FinTech start-up we wanted to take advantage of the huge growth potential in Australia and South East Asia.

An IPO provided the liquidity we needed and gave the existing investors an exit opportunity. So, we listed June 21st, 2018 knowing if we ever needed to raise capital in the future, being listed might also make a further capital raise easier to achieve.

With growth and success comes extra regulatory requirements. So, we also needed to increase our capital reserves. The extra compliance costs associated with being listed weren’t very high. Our dealings with the regulators are positive. They have a certain speed at which they do things, it may not be at the speed we would always like. However, once they understand the concept, they are open to new ideas and business models.

The downside of listing is our current market valuation which is down from the IPO valuation. If we had raised capital through VC or Private Equity the current valuation would be much higher using their metrics.

It doesn’t make sense to me, Raiz trading at a valuation less than we would get if we were unlisted. From my point of view, I think the company is significantly undervalued. When I can, I purchase shares, as do the other directors and staff. But we are at the mercy of the markets!

Rebranding and renaming a Start-up can often have disastrous consequences. How did you ensure a successful re-brand?

George: The rebrand was an interesting exercise. We felt if we asked the customers for feedback and assistance in the name change it may gain more traction. Whilst we loved the Acorns name and so did our customers, it was an arduous process. We wanted to ensure that all the qualities of the old Acorns remained. But the rebrand provided an opportunity to further improve features and services.

Finding a unique name in financial services isn’t easy. We started with a list of over 500 names. The top 50 names were all taken. We then looked at the next 50 names, some were taken, the rest failed under trademark searches. The name had to be something we could uniquely spell and build a new brand around.

Raiz was eventually chosen based on the feedback from our community. The name continues to champion the central thesis. Raise your wealth, raise your financial confidence and raise your investment knowledge, all in the background of life.

What does 2019 have in store for Raiz?

George: We’re working on the launch into South East Asia, starting with Indonesia and Malaysia. We continue to develop the technology and have deployed artificial intelligence and chat bots with encouraging feedback from our customers.

There is lots of work to do. We continually look for ways to improve the user experience. Expect new releases of the app soon with improved functionality and experience. We have collected and analysed huge datasets on how users use the app. Raiz customers can expect a highly personalised experience as we move into 2019.

At the end of the day our goal is and always will be to ensure we increase our customers’ financial confidence and help improve their lives.


Download Raiz Invest today.

Read the rest of our FinTech NextGen series

Alex Badran Spriggy

Spriggy is a financial education product for families that helps parents teach their kids about money. The app has become so important in the ‘Cousins’ house hold that the kids now call ‘pocket money’, ‘Spriggy money.’

Dexter Cousins of Tier One People talks with Co-Founder and Co-CEO, Alex Badran, to talk about the Spriggy journey. Alex is one of the smartest, likeable and authentic entrepreneurs you will ever meet.

How does Spriggy work?

Alex: Spriggy provides a prepaid card for kids and an app that parents and kids use together. Through the app, kids can learn about earning, saving, and spending, in a responsible manner, in an environment supervised by their parents.

 

How did the idea for Spriggy come about?

Alex: In 2015, myself and my co-founder Mario Hasanakos got together, and we were talking about banking. We had both worked in a bank and felt banks could do a better job in teaching their customers about money. We could see technological advances were enabling new solutions to enter the market.

Banking at the time was slow-moving, encumbered by legacy technology and regulation. Mario and I felt the conditions were right to deliver something unique to consumers. So, we began talking to people about how they interacted with money and the challenges that they faced. We very quickly discovered a problem that exists between parents and their kids;

“How does a parent teach their kids about money, as money becomes invisible?”

 

We found invisible money was a real concern for most parents out there. It’s a very practical problem as kids are spending online nowadays and money is becoming increasingly digital, yet parents are still teaching kids with antiquated techniques.

So, we set out to help parents teach their kids about money. And started by trying to solve a very practical problem, which is:

“how do I manage digital money with my kids?”

 

How did you bring the idea of Spriggy to life?

Alex: Mario and I have a bias towards doing. During the research phase we built a very clunky prototype. Our first-ever family, Annabelle and her kids, sat in the office with us, as we used off-the-shelf products to put together a product.

Within a few days Annabelle, had a basic tool through which she could manage pocket money with her kids. It wasn’t the best product, but we were able to observe the challenges that Annabelle faced and iterate on the solution that we had in place. We then built a solution and tested it with fifty families. Based on the learnings from testing we built the commercial version you are using today.

 

Discover your next challenge – Our Latest Fintech Jobs 

What feedback did you get during the early stages?

Alex: It was an interesting experience. Mario and I were given a front-row seat to the challenges parents face with their kids. We learnt pretty quickly that it can be tough managing kids. The jobs of mums and dads is chaotic. You’ve got kids going to sport, you’ve got kids running out the door going to school.

We learned quickly that if we didn’t build something to make their lives easier, they wouldn’t have the time to consider it. Anything we could do to simplify the challenges faced by parents, would be considered a win.

Building an app for adults and building an app for kids is a very different process. Adults are used to having control, they’re not as digitally native. Parents understand concepts around money, but are less literate in technology. Whereas kids, they know their way around Snapchat, Instagram, YouTube, but are less literate when it comes to finance.

We could get away with clunky prototypes with parents. If it was functionally up to what they required, they were happy with it. But with kids, if it wasn’t up to the quality standard they had grown used to, they wouldn’t use it.

Building a solution for kids was daunting, but also informative, because we discovered quickly where you need to set the bar. It was intimidating putting products in front of kids. They’d find bugs very quickly and they’d say, ‘look, it’s not good enough.’

Don’t underestimate kids. By giving kids control, responsibility, and ownership, and them seeing the consequences of their decisions, it’s remarkable how quickly they learn. There’s no conversation we’ve seen to replace the feeling a child gets when they spend five dollars on something stupid and then regret it.

The act of learning by doing is very powerful. Which is something I’ve always believed. There’s plenty of research to back it up, but seeing it in practice was cool.

Spriggy Money

The Cousins Klan earning their ‘Spriggy’ money!

 

What was the point that you realised that, ‘Hey, we’ve actually got something really special here?’

Alex: I remember this moment vividly. We were moving from our prototype product to a commercial product, I called one of our earlier users, Nicola, and asked her if we could wind down the original prototype. She would only have to wait a couple weeks for the commercial version.

Nicola said no. We couldn’t take the prototype away from her, because she needed it. Even though it was clunky, didn’t work properly, and wasn’t to a commercial standard, Nicola’s daughter had been naughty that week and she was restricting her pocket money. I got off the phone, went back to Mario and said, “Man, we’ve got to keep this product running for one of our families because they just need it.”

 

“When you’ve got customers that won’t let you take the product away from them, you know you’re solving an acute pain point in their lives. That was the moment I knew we were truly building something special.”


 

There has been a lot of ‘bank bashing’ recently with the Royal Commission. What do you think is the right approach for a FinTech start-up to get traction, and become successful?

Alex: Interesting question. I think it’s about knowing who your audience is. There is a lot of talk around banks right now. Could Spriggy take advantage of the Royal Commission and ‘bash the banks?’ Yes, but I think negative messaging is setting the bar low.

Parents don’t care about banks. They care about their kids. They care about their kids being able to buy lunch, they care about their kids being able to buy a house when they grow up, they care about being able to afford a family holiday, and don’t want to have to worry about school fees.

Our view at Spriggy is that we’re always better off focusing on who our members are and what’s important to them. How do you find the core, emotional driver, that keeps your customers up at night, and deliver real value to them?

“The answer will differentiate you from the competition and help you get traction.”

How have you scaled the business?

Alex: Mario and I are both optimists at heart. The downside of that is you under resource at times. Spriggy was only four full-time people when we launched to the public. It was remarkably challenging in those early days. You don’t really know where the cracks are in your system, particularly with a product of this complexity, until you put in front of people.

When it comes to people’s money, if it feels like their money isn’t where it should be, that’s a terrible user experience. You can’t get away with mistakes and bugs. If you build a social app, and a user has two likes instead of three, people don’t seem to mind. But the minute you’re starting to deal with real money, the quality threshold needs to be extremely high.

At launch, the product was ready to go, but as we started to scale the business, we had challenges. In the early days, we were growing much faster than we expected. And we were receiving a lot of feedback from our customers. It was all-hands-on-deck, to ensure we applied the feedback and iterated the product quickly.

We are now a team of twenty, which is great to see. For the first time since Spriggy started we are not depending on a few remarkably talented people to do everything. We now have remarkably talented people, in specialist roles. We now have processes and support in place, we now have the tools and resources to take a product and business which is scaling and deliver even more value to our customers.

Spriggy Co-Founders

Alex (left) and co-founder Mario Hasanakos (right) with the shiniest head in FinTech!

 

Discover your next challenge – Our Latest Fintech Jobs 

 

How have you attracted highly talented people to the business?

Alex: It’s a great question! I reflect on this a lot. The product and the space we’re in is interesting, so that gets people’s attention. Spriggy is also a unique brand, in a unique space, and there’s a lot of interesting things happening in FinTech. However, getting people’s attention, that just brings them to the table. There is a whole lot more involved in hiring highly talented people.

We have brilliant people in the team and a very eclectic mix of backgrounds. My co-founder is a physicist and an electrical engineer. Our CTO has been building apps ever since apps were around. Our CMO is a software engineer, one of our software engineers has a medical degree and our customer success lead used to be a geneticist.

We have managed to hire remarkably talented people who are great people, not just intelligent. They work hard, they care about what they do, they care about the people around them and they care about our customers.

This might sound simple, but talented people want to work with talented people who share the same values and ethics. That’s it. Sure, our people have flexibility, equity and all the advantages of working in a startup, but they are not the key motivators for joining.

Our people really buy into the Spriggy mission too. I love coming to work, and I learn so much from our team, every day. They are just amazing to be around. I am sure it will become harder to hire exceptional people as we scale, but right now, hiring talent isn’t a challenge for us.

 

What do you see as the challenges for Spriggy?

Alex: We have a customer base who like our product, we have a very capable team, we’re in in a space that is exciting and there is lots of opportunity. The challenge is just to remain focused and keep on executing.

Execution is a lot less glamorous than people make out. It’s rolling your sleeves up and doing all the hard parts. Execution is being focused on the right problems. Not trying to solve one hundred different problems, but solving the one or two that really matter. Keeping disciplined and focused when executing will be one of the challenging parts of our growth.

Access to capital in Australia is challenging. Mario and I, we’re not natural capital-raisers, we’re product guys. We have learned a lot during the capital raise process. Presenting as the founders, hitting the pavement, talking to a lot of people, learning who’s in the network, who you should be talking to, who you shouldn’t be talking to.

Learning how capital-raising works was a big challenge in the early days. But we are fortunate to have met a lot of good investors, good people, and great founders too. I underestimated how helpful founders can be. Other founders may be a year or two ahead can tell you who to approach and who not to approach, which saves a lot of time.

I personally find capital-raising challenging in the sense that I much prefer to be building the business, rather than talking about building the business. Pitching and raising capital are disciplines I’ve had to learn.

 

And what is the end goal for you and Spriggy?

Alex: This is not an easy answer. I am not thinking about an exit strategy. We’re just getting started. We have just earned the right to play. And we’ve spent years earning the right to play. I feel like we’re about to start delivering on the vision we had from the beginning.

It’s becoming clearer what our customers want and need. It is obvious that the financial services sector is shifting and there are a lot of dynamics which are playing out globally. Tech is evolving rapidly and the consumer segment continues to evolve.

So, there are a lot of unknowns out there. We need to keep making sure we listen to the signal versus the noise, look after our customers, look after our team. And it’s that simple.

But there’s a lot of momentum in the market and we’re looking forward to delivering more value over the next three, six, twelve months. There will be some cool features coming your way very soon.

Sibos 2018 – The Rise of FinTech

FinTech comes of age in Australia at Sibos 2018.

As Sibos 2018 comes to a close and the worlds biggest players in banking head home the event can be considered a huge success, especially for FinTech. Sibos is the worlds premiere financial services event and what an event it is. 7000 banking and financial services professionals from across the globe gathered. With Money 20:20 taking place in Vegas at the same time the turn out was incredible.

Australian FinTech partnered with Tier One People to cover the four day event.

A dedicated Fintech exhibition, The Discovery Zone drew huge crowds. Innotribe, presented the worlds foremost experts on Blockchain, AI, Quantum Computing and Open Banking. The Oceania Lounge, hosted by FinTech Australia showcased some of the brightest emerging FinTech startups to the 7000 attendees.

FinTech thought leaders such as Ghela Boskovich, Dr. Leda Glyptis (exclusive TOP interview coming soon), Tony Fish and Brett King could all be seen engaging with some of the most visionary FinTech founders from the US, Asia, Israel, Europe and the UK.

The calibre of Fintech businesses and talent on show was outstanding.

My fondest memories of the week are the friendships that have developed with some of the very best people in FinTech. Straight shooting visionaries like Leda Glyptis and Ghela Boskovich think Australia has potential to become world pioneers in areas like Open Banking. They are genuinely excited by the talent and tech on show.

VC firms are actively pursuing Australian FinTech’s who are considered advanced in RegTech and Compliance technology. I expect to see more overseas investors look to Australia in 2019.

Sibos presented an opportunity to put Australian FinTech on the map and everyone involved has delivered. Congratulations to FinTech Australia and a special mention to Rebecca Schot-Guppy who is doing an incredible job as interim CEO. You really have done the FinTech community proud, Rebecca, muchos respect!


FinTech Ashes?

A UK FinTech delegation led by Alastair Lukies (Theresa May’s Ambassador for FinTech) and the UK Department of Trade added a little bit of spice and rivalry. The UK is almost 12 months into Open Banking and there is so much we can learn from our UK cousins. In many areas Australian FinTech is catching up to the UK. There is a golden opportunity to make Australia the FinTech gateway to Asia if we approach the next 12 months in teh right way.

I spent the week getting to know many of the UK delegation and there is a real desire to collaborate and leverage opportunities. A breakfast forum on open banking covered many areas of the consumer data right, which creates even more complexity to the debate (which is becoming very heated here in Australia.)

Andrew Stephens of the Data Standards Council was astute enough to point out, while banks and FinTech’s jostle over open banking, the consumer (who’s data they are fighting over) seems to have been forgotten about.

The work of Tess Thomas and Odette Hampton and the rest of the team from UK Department of Trade is highly commendable. It is fantastic to see so much energy and enthusiasm to build the FinTech Bridge, attracting investment and capital for both nations.


Own the relationship or partner with a big bank!

The Discovery stage was standing room only as the hottest topics were covered. Van Le (Xinja), Steve Weston (Volt Bank) and Robert Bell (:86400) debated challenger banks, open banking and how to win customers from the big banks. Personally I can’t wait for 2019 when challenger banks will finally launch.

Simon Lee, Co-Founder of Assembly Payments gave a straightforward account of partnering successfully with an incumbent bank. Exciting times for Assembly as they go through a period of rapid growth and the partnership with Westpac pays off. Simon is a top guy and is spending a lot of his time in the US talking to potential partners and VC.

For many FinTech businesses, partnering with a bank is the fastest and often times the only path to success. There has been some friction in previous years with banks being accused of ‘innovation theatre’. At Sibos 2018 banks were ready to do business and a number of FinTech’s we talked to were in advanced talks with documents signed and commercial terms being drawn up.

The energy at Sibos was so exhilarating that even an overnight 10% tanking of the markets didn’t seem to dampen spirits!


KPMG FinTech 100.

KPMG and H2 Ventures announced the FinTech 100. Coincidentally three of Australia’s recognised FinTech startups were lined up next to each other at Sibos – Trade Ledger, Look Who’s Charging and Airwallex. Tier One People have been waxing lyrical about Trade Ledger and Look Who’s Charging for several months.

The rise of Airwallex has been phenomenal. I caught up with GM for Australia, Steven Deglas who was delighted.

“It is a big milestone. We are three years old now, there are lots of entrants in our space and not many make it past 18 months. So it is a big testament to the team, the founders and our investors that we continue to grow. There are lots of opportunities for us and we are really excited about the next 12 months.”

Nicole Grover Co Founder of Look Who’s Charging said she was pleasantly surprised when the award was announced.

“I thought we had been invited along as guests, when they called out Look Who’s Charging I was pleasantly surprised. David and Stu (David Washbrook and Stu Grover co CEO’s) are in Vegas for Money 20;20 as we look to expand. The partnership with NAB has really given momentum and we are very excited about the global opportunities ahead. We have lots of interest from banks and FinTechs at Sibos and Money 20;20. And everyone seems prepared to talk business.”

Martin McCann, CEO of Trade ledger was his usual modest self and humbled by last nights award.

“It is fantastic recognition. The business is only two years old and we now have offices in London and Sydney. I have moved to London to focus on partnering with international banks. The KPMG FinTech 100 recognition is paying off with several banks exhibiting at Sibos approaching me today. The only downside to being in London is I miss my Sunday morning surf!”


The potential game changers.

I was really fortunate to shadow a group of hand-picked FinTech companies as they hustled for new partners and potential investors. Here is my pick of the best of an already elite group of FinTech startups.

Priviti Group is a startup from Ireland with a Consent Management Standard for Open Banking. It is a visionary technology that allows the Consumer to grant, review and revoke consent for the use of their personal data. I spent the whole week with CEO Dave Cunningham and Head of Asia Dermot McCann, these guys are phenomenal entrepreneurs and have a visionary solution. Absolute game changers!

Bud Financial is an API platform connecting banks to 90 FinTech applications. Leading the way for open banking in the UK, Bud enables big banks to partner with multiple FinTech applications, giving the user one simple interface. Bud is the perfect solution for FinTechs and large banks to collaborate, with HSBC their biggest client. There are no plans to head out to the Australia at this stage.

Arctic Intelligence is a regtech software business going through huge growth. Offering a risk management and compliance solution suitable for businesses from startup to global enterprise. I caught up with CEO, Anthony Quinn and there is significant interest from global players in banking.

R3 Blockchain platform, Corda, that enables any business of any size to build and operate on the blockchain.  Corda records, manages, executes institutions’ financial agreements in perfect synchrony with their peers, creating a world of frictionless commerce.

Scanovate is an Israeli startup with a mobile first, dynamic, identity management platform using facial recognition for KYC compliance. I spent a day with the CEO

Revolut I hear the wait will soon be over. Can’t say anything else at this stage sorry.

FinTech Summit

Tuesday 16th October. The 5th FinTech Summit took place in Sydney. An all-star line-up of FinTech leaders and a sell-out crowd made this the best FinTech Summit yet.

The topics of open banking, the rise of challenger banks, the recurring themes of raising capital and hiring talent were all debated. But the prominent themes of the day were integrity, ethics and genuine care for customers.

There was a real sense of excitement in the room, with the audience recognising we are at the beginning of a new era in FinTech. Presentations by UP Bank and Xinja demonstrated the differences between a digital challenger bank and a neo bank.

Using ground breaking technology, Up (challenger bank) have taken an established bank and re-imagined the banking experience based on the premise ‘living not banking.’

Xinja (neo bank), on the other hand are building a totally new bank and new products, using technology to ‘bring humanity back into banking.’

Two very different angles, two very different visionaries but two people united in making Australian banking the best in the world.

A panel discussion with challengers Volt Bank, Athena Home Loans, Douugh and Judo Capital and a final presentation by Martin McCann of Trade Ledger painted an exhilarating future for Aussie FinTech. In 12 months time Australian consumers could be spoilt for choice.


Celebrating the success stories of Australian FinTech

AfterpayDavid Hancock of AfterPay opened the FinTech Summit with a fantastic presentation on customer trust. AfterPay has a market cap of AUS $2.6bn and is without doubt Australia’s greatest FinTech success story to date. The global growth story is astonishing, even Kylie Jenner wants AfterPay for her cosmetics business!

The paradigm shift in risk management, based on trust and customer care, has played a big role in AfterPay’s success. Social platforms, technology and access to data have all enabled the rapid growth and adoption of new business models. His words of advice to the major banks were

“The cost of mistrusting people is significantly higher than the value of mistrusting people.”

Katherine McConnell, CEO and Founder of Brighte shared her journey. Incredible to think exactly three years ago, Katherine arrived at Stone & Chalk with a vision and a laptop. Today, Brighte has written approximately AUS $200m in loans, has $90m banking facilities, with investors including Mike Cannon-Brookes and AirTree Ventures.

The 10x vision for Brighte is to enable the mass adoption of batteries in the home and play a pivotal role in making Australia a clean energy country. Despite all the success and awards, Katherine remains one of the most humble and accessible people in FinTech. It is fantastic to see the continued success of Brighte.


Xinja news and updates

Xinja CEO, Eric Wilson was as passionate as ever in his mission to bring humanity back into banking. We caught up with Eric afterwards where he shared big announcements and a new product release (not Xinja Chocolate.)

Although unable to name names at this stage, expect announcements on high-profile board appointments. The series C funding round is coming to a successful close with lots of interest from overseas investors. Talks with regulators are on track. And the core banking system implementation (a world first partnership with SAP) is ahead of schedule. Hopefully all should be announced at the next AGM planned for November.

So, only one questions remains (quote Billy Zane in Zoolander)

‘Eric, when you gonna drop Android on us buddy?’

Soon!


Values and culture are your business

The afternoon event consisted of 4 break out sessions on open banking, raising capital, regtech and compliance. Yours truly chaired a panel discussion with Kylie Vitale of Volt Bank, Kristen Holmes of Zip and Will Blott of Cover Genius. Three highly progressive People and Culture leaders with a pioneering approach to scaling businesses through Values and Culture. The value of hiring a People and Culture specialist in the early stages of growth is huge.


Open banking and the future of Australian FinTech

Martin McCann of Tradeledger ended what was an energetic event with a rallying call to action on open banking.

“If we make Banking as a Service a success, we could unleash Aussie financial muscle on international markets, on a scale never seen before”

What a fantastic message to end a landmark day.

My closing thoughts? Open banking is a once in a century opportunity for Australians. For the future of Australia and our ability to compete on a global scale, we simply cannot allow open banking to become the exclusive domain of the big four banks. Scott Morrison has asked the FinTech community not to screw it (open banking) up. Today, the FinTech community fired the same message straight back to the PM.

Glen Frost deserves extra special praise for organising another standout Summit and for his continued and selfless support of the FinTech community. Well done Glen!

 

 

Up Bank Launch

October 9th 2018 will go down in history as the day Australian Banking stepped into the future, with the official launch of Australia’s first Next Gen NeoBank. 

Up is a partnership between Australia’s 5th largest bank, Bendigo and Adelaide Bank, and Ferocia, the software team behind Bendigo’s award winning banking platform.

Tier One People Founder, Dexter Cousins was one of a lucky few guests at the launch event in Sydney. The launch itself was more akin to an iPhone launch than the launch of a bank. Founder Dom Pym (the dude in the beard) wowed the crowd with an amazing product demo. Guests watched on as Dom transfered money from his UP account into the account of Head of Product, Anson Parker (pictured next to Dom,) using a voice command, in seconds.

A bank built by Techies NOT Bankers

Users can sign ‘UP’ for an account in two minutes (the average sign up time is 2 minutes 5 seconds to be exact!) and use the account immediately through Apple Pay while your card is issued. UP is the first cloud-hosted bank platform using Google Cloud Services, testing results on the platform are incredible. During 11 months of testing, the platform has spent a total of just over two hours in down time!

The technology is super powerful with features like spend tracking, spend analysis, automatic transaction recognition, instant payments using Osko and Siri integration. And they have been super smart to preempt open data reforms by giving users total access to their data. The tech is backed up by seriously slick UX and design.

I asked founder Dom Pym if UP were classing themselves as a challenger bank to the Big 4 Australian domestic banks. This is what he had to say;

“Bendigo and Adelaide Bank’s strong track-record provides us with a credible banking partner, coupled with the creative licence to design Up in the most ‘non-bank’ way possible. It has meant we can offer customers a new way to manage their money ahead of everyone else.”

“The alternative would have been to apply for a restricted banking license and be in the same boat as the neo banks – unable to launch in any meaningful way until at least 2019.”

“We’ll keep working at a fierce pace to add new and exciting features at a consistent rate. We’ve been averaging about five deployments per day, which is unusual for a bank, to say the least, and we’ll continue to do so.”

Up Bank Launch

Is UP any different to any other banking app?

I have been using UP for the past six weeks. What I find so refreshing and unique about UP is the limited involvement of bankers in the build and design of products. UP has been built by Tech people (super talented Tech people!) and the end product is highly impressive.

The bar has been set high for challenger banks entering the market. What is so ground breaking about UP? They have taken the best of the best FinTech innovation and applied design thinking to create a banking app for a world where customers own their data. Australian consumers are long overdue an enjoyable and convenient banking experience. UP delivers and then some.

Just announced – Founder Dom Pym will be sharing the UP journey at the FinTech Summit 16th October 2018 in Sydney

Exclusive for Tier One People network

Skip the wait list and get access now. Download the UP Banking App on iTunes and Android and enter code DEXTER – Limited to first 50

Katherine McConnell – Brighte

From corporate career to FinTech leader of the year.
The amazing story of Katherine McConnell.

Katherine McConnell is CEO and Founder of Brighte. In 2015, Katherine was in a comfortable corporate job. Today she is Fintech Leader of the year, running a successful, rapidly scaling business and has the backing of Mike Cannon-Brookes.

I have been recruiting leadership talent for 20 years and no one has impressed me as much as Katherine. She is rightly hailed as an inspiration to female entrepreneurs. But her courage, commitment, vision and focus serves as an inspiration to everyone.

Interview with Dexter Cousins of Tier One People

 

What motivated you to start Brighte?

Katherine: The idea for Brighte came in 2015, it was a combination of two things; deep industry experience (Katherine spent 14 years at Macquarie Bank in asset and energy finance.) And identifying an opportunity in the market to provide a faster, easier way to finance solar panels and batteries, especially for families around Australia.

My family had installed solar and it was an exciting time. There were days where we lived totally off the grid. Some days we were putting energy back into the grid, even making money from our solar set up. Our two kids were fascinated.

However, having solar installed was expensive. I knew that as the cost of batteries came down, solar would become more accessible for Australian families. Even today, solar is still expensive to install so finance is often needed. You pay for solar panels, batteries and the installation upfront, but over time you generate savings on your energy bill.

A payment plan product where you can pay over time wasn’t on the market when I installed solar. And that is how Brighte was born. It was a mixture of personal excitement, and the realisation of a potentially huge market opportunity.

How did you get started on Brighte?

Katherine: I began working on Brighte over a period of a few months. Resigning felt like a much bigger deal than starting the business. Now I have had success, a lot of people come to me with great ideas, but they can’t bring themselves to quit their regular job.

I understand why they find it so difficult. Macquarie was a big part of my life, for 14 years. How do you give it all up for what feels like a crazy dream? The only person who can get you to make the leap is you, but for someone in a corporate role, who’s rational, that’s a really, irrational step to make.

What is it like to go from having a stable job to becoming a business leader and CEO of one of Australia’s fastest growing FinTech’s?

Katherine: Every day has offered a different experience. A lot of what I am doing hasn’t been done before. A sole female founder, in the finance industry, starting a lending business, mum to two kids. At Macquarie I never had a team. Until Brighte I had never managed anyone in a business, no leadership training.

Everything I have accomplished with Brighte, I had never done before, and there’s no guidebook. Of course, other people have launched successful start-ups in their own way, with their company and industry. You can read their experiences and stories, but your own journey is totally different to theirs.

It can be lonely being the CEO. Sure, you have your leadership team, and you can share things with them, but ultimately, you’re the only one who’s across everything in the business.

With so much skin in the game, managing the board, managing investors, it’s a unique position to be in. But the way I think about is this is a once in a lifetime opportunity. It’s like I have won the lotto, it’s scary, but it’s amazing. And it is a real privilege to be backed by investors.



What are your top tips for securing investment?

Katherine: My advice for seed round is this; work really, really hard. Don’t give up, have a plan, and work to that plan. Don’t go in with an open-ended presentation. Be clear and articulate the commitment you are looking for from potential investors.

I learnt early on that you must have a data room. If you want to win investors over, you’ve got to know what you’re doing. We set up the data room with all the policies, processes, everything in there. We had a very slick and professional presentation in place. There were very clear next steps and everything was ready to go, it just moved so quickly from there on.

Did people doubt your vision for Brighte?

Katherine: Some people did look at me funny, as if to say,

“It is a huge vision, what makes you think you can pull it off?”

And that is okay, they have their own logic and rationale and it doesn’t align with your business plan. There were potential investors who didn’t buy into me, they would look at me and say,

“You need a co-founder, you need a tech, you need to have been an entrepreneur before.”

I satisfied none of their checklists on what makes a successful entrepreneur. The only thing they could see was my deep industry experience.

What spurred you on?

Katherine: I don’t believe the stereotypical indicators of a start-up entrepreneur are required for success. I truly believe you don’t need a co-founder. It would make my life easier if I had one, but I knew I had the resilience and the strength to do it myself.

I don’t agree that you need a tech background or a tech co-founder. I also don’t believe that you need previous experience in a start-up. Understanding the pitfalls may accelerate the journey, but my deep industry experience, understanding financials, understanding commercial agreements, perhaps that is more important than start-up experience?

At no point did I think “I can’t do this”. I was focussed and had total belief I would make it work. I had so much belief that we re-mortgaged the house. Eventually I met my seed investors, fantastic people who I have great respect for.

They saw in me someone who had put her life and her family’s life on the line. They could see I came with deep industry experience, a detailed business plan and could answer any question they threw at me. I had identified a clear problem, identified a clear market opportunity and developed a viable solution. It made a big difference.

At what point did Brighte become successful?

Katherine: The day after I left Macquarie I bought a MacBook, sat at my desk in Stone and Chalk with a computer and a blank pad of paper. A year later, we had built a full tech platform, vendor portal, vendor app, consumer web platform, consumer app. We had built a platform with instant credit decisioning, policies. processes and legally compliant.

Within a year we were accepting loan applications on our mobile app. What we achieved in that first 12 months with just three full time people and contractors was huge. The first year was tough.

We have been writing loans for two years now. The business is 60 people and growing fast. The structure is one third sales and marketing, one third tech and one third operations – credit, risk, finance etc. Initially I hired people I knew, approaching them directly. At the start of 2017 I had to go outside my network as the next phase of growth required very specific skillsets.


How do you find the right talent?

Katherine: Today we’re able to attract great people because of the brand, our investors and the fact we are a solid business. But a year ago, no one had heard of Brighte.

Attracting great people to a start-up is very difficult. You don’t have much leverage. Hiring based on values is nice but not always possible. Now Brighte is established we absolutely recruit on values and cultural alignment. Initially I hired people based on technical expertise.

I consider myself genuine and transparent, I work hard, but I am a parent and need flexibility, and that means you must trust people to get things done. I didn’t set out to create a culture, I had to hire like-minded people.

I am a huge believer in diversity and inclusion. I am very passionate about helping and encouraging fellow females. I want Brighte to be a diverse organization, it is easy to say, you must be pragmatic. As an example, it is tough to find female developers. There are three female developers in our team, which is fantastic, but they are very hard to find.

The way we have attracted a diverse work force is by accommodating flexible working arrangements, allowing people to work from home, work flexible hours or by giving extra time off over school holidays.

When you give your people clear outcomes, define what success looks like and outline what contribution you expect from them, flexible arrangements work well.

So, the culture at Brighte is based on finding like-minded people who share the same ethos on working together. We have a team of high-performing people, with a clear focus, clear direction, clear strategies. Everyone is prepared to do what it takes to achieve their goals. The team is so aligned that I rarely get involved in hiring now.

And what does the future hold for Brighte?

Katherine: We are going to keep our head down and keep working. There are new products in development we will be launching soon.  And we continue to improve the Brighte solution, whether that be for businesses or consumers.

We are working on solutions for our partners at the point of sale, making it easier for our businesses to process sales and grow their business. And on the consumer side we continue to develop ways for every Australian to enjoy the benefits of solar.

Read our Fintech NewGen Leadership Series

Daniel Foggo Ratesetter
Daniel Foggo RateSetter

If we are to compete with the large incumbents and other financial services businesses, and we want to continue to grow at the rate we’re growing, we need to be doing things better than what they’ve been done previously, all the time. It is a constant challenge to each member of our team.

Daniel Foggo – Ratesetter.

Daniel Foggo is CEO of RateSetter Australia and a true Fintech pioneer. He introduced Australia to the marketplace lending (or peer to peer) model back in 2014, paving the way for Fintech to go mainstream. RateSetter turns 4 in October so it seemed like the perfect time for Daniel to reflect on his journey. Read on in this enlightening interview with Dexter Cousins

 

For people who aren’t familiar with the marketplace lending model, can you explain how it works?

Daniel: RateSetter provides a marketplace, much like a lot of other disruptive businesses (Uber as an example.) We provide investors with access to strong, stable investment returns via investments into consumer loans. By connecting borrowers and investors together, we can cut out costs, improve efficiency and ultimately deliver better value to both sides of the market. In operating our platform, our primary objective is to ensure our investors get a good return and that there’s stability in the returns earned.

Our model is quite different to some other marketplace lenders, in that we provision for losses, to help support the stability of returns. For every loan funded, an amount is paid into our Provision Fund. Which helps protect investors from any borrower defaults. Our Provision Fund currently has about 6% of the value of our loan book in it, held in cash.

Our Provision Fund has meant that to date, our investors have received every cent of principle and interest they expected to receive. This fund is carefully managed to help ensure protection for our investors. Not just in the strong economic times we are experiencing now, but also in a sustained, stressed economic environment.

Providing a better deal all round.

On the other side of our marketplace, we provide borrowers with very attractive loans, whether they come directly to us or via an intermediary. We attract customers because we provide very good value. Our rates are up to around 8% lower than those typically offered by the large incumbents. We also provide a very convenient, easy service.

We are a true Fintech business. An equal mix of finance and technology people. Most Fintech’s tend very much to be one or the other. We must get credit and finance right. We must deliver the right financial outcomes for our retail investors, We must deliver for important commercial partners such as the Government’s Clean Energy Finance Corporation. Equally we need the right technology in place to perform our duties efficiently and to ensure our customers have an unrivalled experience when borrowing or investing with us.


How did RateSetter begin?

Daniel: I spent well over a decade in investment banking, latterly at Barclays Capital here in Australia. Lending money to businesses post the financial crisis was an arduous process. It didn’t seem to work very well for the bank or for the bank’s customer. Even if a loan was approved by our global credit committee, as a bank we were often lending money at a loss. For the bank to break even on lending deals, we would have to cross sell other products.

Customers were also paying high rates and fees for credit. Whilst it was hard for us to make money, it was equally hard for them to reconcile the spread between what they were earning on their deposits versus what they were paying on their loans.

It had also become clear to me the banking model had major systemic flaws. The original concept of a bank was to keep your money safe. But banks today are involved in high risk activities which put customer deposits at risk. As a society we manage those risks by ensuring a bank can withstand a one in a 50 or one in a 100-year event. So logically, we see many years where the bank model is unable to provide good value to customers. Then events repeatedly occur where taxpayers are required to bail out tough situations.

Redesigning a better financial system.

The Financial Crisis of 2008 really highlighted the issues I am talking about. Shortly after the Financial Crisis, I read in the Economist that if you were to redesign finance, you wouldn’t start with a bank. The implication was that you would have banks, but that there are other models that can serve both the borrower and the investor better, whilst supporting a more robust, more resilient financial system.

This thinking led me to look for an alternative to the bank model I was working in. I wanted to see a new model prosper, a model that could leverage technology and pass on better value to customers, and not have to lean, unfairly, on the tax payer for support.

Fintech in Australia is born.

So, in 2012 I resigned from my job at Barclays, flew my family to the UK and spent 3 months visiting lots of different businesses trying to find a model I thought would resonate with Australians. On my trip I met amongst other businesses, Funding Circle, (expected to IPO in the next fortnight with an approximate valuation of £1.5bn) and RateSetter. They were both very early stage and had both funded less than £20 million in loans.

Once I explained the bank spreads in the Australia market, it was clear to them that there was a significant opportunity for a marketplace lending model in Australia. The spreads were just so much wider in Australia than in the UK. I very quickly made the decision that the RateSetter model, in particular, could prosper in Australia. I flew back here to assess the market opportunity – really to see if I could uncover any reasons why the model might not work here. A month later I returned to the UK and signed a partnership agreement with RateSetter.

It’s been a very successful partnership, they’ve been extremely supportive in building our Australian business, especially as we went through the process of gaining our regulatory licences from ASIC.

How did you get the Australian business off the ground?

Daniel: The initial years were not the most enjoyable years of my life! I spent just under two years going through the licensing process. We started in late 2012 and the term “Fintech” in the submissions probably caused confusion, as it wasn’t a term in Australia at that stage.

ASIC took the time to understand our offering. With the RateSetter model working very well in the UK, we were fortunate in that we could point to it as an example of success.

Political support for our model in the UK and in Australia also helped. There was an increasing awareness politically, and maybe with regulators, that something needed to be done to increase the diversity of our financial system. We couldn’t just have a reliance on one model, being a bank model, but rather needed various models that work together. I think we had some success in explaining that marketplace lending could be part of the solution.

Finally, in October 2014 we had the relevant licenses in place and launched the business.


 Need to hire TOP talent? Get in touch.


 

As one of the pioneers of Fintech in Australia, what are your views on the opportunities for the industry.

Daniel: The Royal Commission, Open Banking and Comprehensive Credit Reporting are creating significant structural changes in consumer finance. These changes, in turn, are creating opportunities for Fintech business like we have never seen before.

Maybe the most significant structural change is the shift in trust. We are moving into a world where large financial institutions, who may have prided themselves on having consumer’s trust, are quickly finding it’s being eroded. Conversely technology-led businesses are typically doing a very good job of building customer trust.

Clearly in finance it is especially important to earn a customer’s trust, although it can take much longer to earn than in some other industries. Fintech business do have a few tools in their tool box to help of course, such as by providing high levels of transparency and control to their customers.

What is the long-term strategy for RateSetter?

Daniel: We are building an enduring business. There is a perception a tech start-up will become successful overnight. Seek and Carsales.com (a shareholder of RateSetter) are both examples of businesses which listed to great fanfare and are subsequently very successful businesses. What a lot of people don’t know is it took each over 10 years to get to IPO.

From day one at RateSetter we’ve always had a very long view in mind.

This is a multi-decade opportunity to build a model that becomes a significant part of our financial system. To achieve our potential, we want to achieve it in a relatively low risk way, which means very considered growth, which is broadly consistent every month.

Although our approach to growth is conservative, that doesn’t mean we are not growing rapidly, and that there’s not a huge runway for future growth. Our leading volumes are consistently about 100% ahead of where they were a year ago. And we expect to sustain this level of growth for many years to come. We currently fund around $25 million of loans each month. At our current growth rate, within 2 years we will be close to matching a big four bank in terms of the value of amortizing non-mortgage consumer loans funded each month.

What are the secrets of RateSetter’s success to date?

Daniel: Long term success comes down to putting the building blocks in place. The first building block – of course – has been to recruit the right people. We have attracted great people, generally because they have quickly understood that by offering better value to our customers and diversifying our financial system, we are in fact providing a ‘social good’. There is certainly also something very democratic about our business model, in that we are providing everyday Australians with access to an asset class which was previously more or less the exclusive domain of sophisticated investors.

Of the first six people in the business, five are still here and the one person who departed is still involved. I am proud of our team, and the fact that our core senior team have a very consistent view about the purpose of our business and where we want to go.

We now have a team of about 90 people, and our team continues to expand rapidly. Everyone in the business is very focused on making sure we deliver on our vision. The challenge of course is ensuring this focus remains as our team grows, not just in number, but geographically.

The next building block is technology.

We work daily to ensure our technology is best in class. We’ve built a fantastic platform from which we can keep growing. The stability of the platform enables the business to grow at scale without problems. We also perform exceptionally well in terms of credit performance because of the quality of our credit data.

The final building block is investors.

Getting the right equity investors on board has been critical to our success. It has been a very conscious decision to look for investors who can contribute not just money but who can contribute more broadly to the success of the business. Pleasingly all investors on our register have contributed to the success of the business in one way or another.

Our management team and related entities, which have delivered our plans, own nearly half of the company. RateSetter UK obviously gave us a foot up and remain very supportive. Carsales and its subsidiary Stratton Finance have helped us break into the loan broker and automotive lending markets. Five V Capital, our financial investor, has a lot of experience with high growth businesses and has shared their expertise in scaling businesses. Then there are private investors who have helped us in various ways

What people challenges have you faced as the business moves from start-up to enterprise?

Daniel:As we continue to add more people the challenges keep evolving. We’ve been quite lucky, in that our culture has remained consistent. This mostly comes down to the way we recruit people. One of the most important questions for us in recruiting is how a new hire will fit from a cultural perspective, especially whether a candidate understands and buys into our purpose.

In keeping with this philosophy, we have sought to avoid having layers of middle management and to give people flexibility. However, we are a regulated business with significant responsibilities, so you do need to have the right controls and compliance measures in place.

If we are to compete with the large incumbents and other financial services businesses, and we want to continue to grow at the rate we’re growing, we need to be doing things better than what they’ve been done previously, all the time. It is a constant challenge to each member of our team.

How would you describe the culture at RateSetter?

Daniel: The person at the helm is perhaps the worst person to articulate company culture and values, as you can often take your own values and behaviours for granted.

I’ve always sought to foster a culture where people are given a lot of autonomy, can take responsibility for their part of the business and are accountable for their – and where relevant – their team’s performance. Everyone in the business has a responsibility to constantly keep evolving and improving.

I believe we have created a respectful culture across the business. We all do the best we can for the customer and for each other. The customer is always front of mind.

Out of everything you’ve achieved so far, what has been the most rewarding part of the journey?

Daniel: Every milestone is rewarding. When we were granted our licenses, it was extremely satisfying after so much time and effort. When we funded our first million dollars, it was exciting as we felt we’d proven the model and the platform works. When we funded $100m, we were delighted to be proving to ourselves that we were successfully building a sustainable business, in the way we promised our customers we would.

Maybe that’s it. Delivering on the promise. That is the most rewarding part of the journey.

But really I still feel like the journey is just beginning. I guess that’s the privilege of starting a business that challenges the status quo in such a large part of the economy.

Fintech Investment Figures 2018
Fintech Investment Figures 2018

Fintech investment on the rise in 2018.

Another excellent report by KPMG has just been released, providing some interesting insights on global Fintech investment.

US – In H1’18, US fintech companies received $14.2 billion in investment, including over $5 billion in venture capital investment

EUROPE – In H1’18 investment in fintech companies in Europe hit $26 billion across 198 deals

ASIA – In H1’18 investment in fintech companies in Asia hit $16.8 billion across 162 deals

Click to access the full report 

 

Check out our latest Fintech jobs

Female Entrepreneur Week

Tank Stream Labs recently held a national week-long series of events dedicated to female entrepreneurs.

Over 50 thought leaders shared their expertise and sparked great debate. 20 plus events across Sydney, Melbourne and Perth brought together people from across the startup ecosystem. “It was great to see so many amazing women coming together to support each other and learn from one another. All of the speakers – female and male – were very generous with their time and shared great insights.” said Julie Demsey, former General Manager of SBE Australia

Fintech in particular is dominated by males. Only 3% of tech firms are founded by women. Yet, when funded, female founded tech startups deliver 35% higher ROI than male led firms. Start Up Muster’s 2017 Report revealed the number of female founders is continuing to trend upwards, sitting at 25.4% up from 23.5% the previous year.

Tank Stream Labs have set out to tackle the burning question – How can we grow this number and what do we need to do to increase female involvement in what has been a male dominant space.

“Female Entrepreneur Week is such an incredible initiative by Tank Stream Labs, it helps to start great conversations amongst the startup community and empower our current and future female entrepreneurs”. Christie Whitehill, Founder of Tech Ready Women and one of the many amazing panelists of Female Entrepreneur Week.

A highlight of the week long event was a fireside chat with Katherine McConnell, CEO and Founder of Brighte. Katherine’s story is one that left everyone in the room inspired. In less than three years Katherine has gone from quitting her corporate job at an investment bank to becoming FinTech Leader of the Year. She has won investment from Atlassian founder Mike Cannon-Brookes, Airtree Ventures and recently closed an $18m series B investment round. Clearly, Katherine is forging the way for females (and males) and rewriting the rule book when it comes to becoming a successful Fintech entrepreneur.

Read an in-depth interview with Katherine McConnell.

Australia's OpenBanking Revolution Blog
Australia’s Open Banking Revolution

When Will Australia’s Open Banking Revolution Begin?

With Open Banking reforms set for July 2019 we have seen the launch two new Digital Banks in Australia, 86 400 and UP Bank. Cuscal backed 86 400   has serious funding and weight behind it with Anthony Thomson, founder of Atom Bank in the UK, as Chair for the bank.

86 400 is still to receive a full banking license and hopes to launch it’s first products early next year. The executive team is in place, in execution mode and there is significant hiring behind the scenes.

UP, backed by Bendigo Bank has quietly entered the market place with  prepaid card offering. The UX is super slick with an account set up in minutes via the app. The card is beautifully designed and the app itself let’s you track your spending on the card. It is an encouraging start.

Judo Capital announced the second-largest fundraising round in Australian start-up history and expects their full banking license by the end of 2018.

Xinja meanwhile recently held their first AGM and announced series C capital raise valuing the business at AUS $95m. With regulators yet to grant Xinja a restricted banking license the raise is conditional on securing a license.

We are hearing that Neo Banks are turning capital away, significant amounts. Australian consumers and investors are raring to go.

Volt Bank, the only licensed Neo Bank in Australia is quietly going about their business. There is significant hiring with the business now over 70 people strong. Most hiring is on the development side but as yet, the mobile app has not been released. Volt Bank Deputy CEO Luke Bunbury was speaking at Mumbrella recently talking about distrust of banks. And he is 100% on the money.

Everybody wants Neo Banks

Recruiters are having a hard time right now trying to convince top talent to join the big 4 banks. And top talent of the big 4 banks and financial institutions seem eager to move on. The enquiries are so great in numbers that we are actually having to turn candidates away from large financial institutions. While we would love to help, the career transition from large corporate to startup is difficult with many people failing to make the leap. And many people in banks offer a very narrow skill set. When you consider CBA has 40,000 staff a Neo Bank will only need 400 staff. So it doesn’t look pretty for career bankers, especially the support staff in operations, finance etc.

Despite the high risk involved and the fact that even the licensed Neobanks in Australia are yet to offer a single product, top talent are showing a strong desire to switch.

Peers in the UK are witnessing a similar trend. Contacts at the Global Search firms in London tell me it is a real struggle to fill the top banking jobs. Executives would prefer to join a Fintech where the regulatory sandbox is making life easier, the rewards greater and the opportunity to build and drive change in the industry fulfilling.

What is holding Australia back?

Asian Investment in Fintech has increased significantly in the past 12 months and the UK is 5 years ahead of where Australia is now. Despite the efforts of UP, Judo, Xinja, Volt, 86400, Qwid and Douugh, Australians have the choice of one product, a prepaid card. In contrast, ANT Financial in China has a 30 day Go To Market turnaround for new products. It raised US $14bn earlier this year.

Who is to blame for the lack of progress?

The Royal Commission appears to be making life for new entrants super tough and the stance of regulators is clearly stunting innovation and progress. While third world countries advance at a rapid rate, it appears the only ship not rising with the tide is Australia.

Australian Prime Minister Hon Scott Morrison MP gave an impressive and encouraging speech at the Annual Fintech Awards dinner in Sydney recently. He made it explicitly clear the Open Banking programme is a priority with the Government relying on the Fintech industry “not to stuff it up”. If successful, Open Banking will be used as the template for all future Australian innovation. Scott Morrison has put a flag in the sand with Australia’s Open Banking initiative set to go live 1st July 2019. He seems personally and politically invested in Open Banking, he can’t afford for it to be his NBN!

But July 2019 is only 11 months away!

How much time and energy are we seeing wasted at innovation hubs, conferences and meetups? Are we guilty of confusing motion with progress?

(Read this great opinion piece, “ecosystem is not a safe word” by one of my favourite commentators on Fintech, Leda Glyptis)

The regulatory sandbox seems to be filled with quicksand. How many Fintech startups are spending time, energy and precious resources pandering to regulators? Waiting months for a response, only to be asked to fill out more forms, answer more questions, when a 30 minute meeting could quickly resolve any minor queries halting progress.

Quietly, small businesses and start up founders are being driven to despair (and often out of business) while corporate, government and regulators appear more interested in perception than progress.

I am convinced Australia has the talent, ideas, capital and capability to be the leading Fintech innovation hub.

So what are the regulators waiting for? Would more progress be made if the spotlight was put on ASIC and APRA?

Check out Our latest Fintech jobs

3rd Annual Fintech Awards
3rd Annual Fintech Awards, Scott Morrison MP guest of honour.

It was a privilege for Tier One People to sponsor the awards and present CTO of the year.

Congratulations to Jins Kaduthodil of Incent Loyalty on winning the CTO of the year award.

Fintech Startup of the Year went to Trade Ledger. Congratulations to Martin McCann and Matt Born who are taking their open banking solution global.

Fintech Leader of the Year went to the outstanding Katherine McConnell of Brighte, also winners of Innovation in Lending.

The attendees were encouraged by a heartfelt rallying call by Prime Minister, Scott Morrison MP, expressing his support for the Fintech community. He made it explicitly clear the Open Banking programme is a Government priority. The PM is relying on the Fintech industry to make the programme a success. If successful, it could well be the template for all future Australian innovation. Scott Morrison has put a flag in the sand with Australia’s Open Banking initiative set to go live 1st July 2019. He seems personally and politically invested in Open Banking and committed to supporting the Fintech community.

Well done to all the winners and a big thank you to Glen Frost for the amazing work he does in providing such a professional platform for the Fintech industry.

The winners 2018

 

AfterPay – FinTech Innovation in Payments

Raiz – FinTech Innovation in Wealth Management

Brighte – FinTech Innovation in Lending

Xinja – Best FinTech Communications Campaign

Look Who’s Charging – Best FinTech-Bank Collaboration of the Year

Katherine McConnell, Brighte – FinTech Leader of the Year

Lucy Yueting Liu,  Airwallex – Female FinTech Leader of the Year

Jins Kaduthodil, Incent Loyalty – FinTech CTO/CIO of the Year

Audeamus Risk – InsureTech Startup of the Year

Checkbox – RegTech of the Year

Trade Ledger – Ashurst FinTech Startup of the Year

 

Check out Our latest Fintech jobs

Eric Wilson Xinja
Eric Wilson – Xinja

“This is what I love about true Neobanks. Turning the banking model, a full 360 degrees, back to when banks were for the community by the community. Entire communities, towns and cities were built with the help of a bank.”

Eric Wilson – Xinja.

Eric Wilson is CEO and Co-Founder of Xinja, one of a new breed of Neo Banks. 

Dexter Cousins talks with Eric about the Xinja journey. It turned out to be the most refreshing and enlightening 30 minutes we have ever spent with a banker!

 

What is a Neobank and how is it different to online banking?

Eric Wilson: Good question. Let’s look at how banking has evolved. Legacy banks, big monopoly banks (or oligopoly banks as we have in Australia) have gradually moved to online banking. More recently we have seen web and phone apps, but Australian banking has not evolved in the last five years. Online banking in Australia is effectively a last century business model delivered through a different channel, your smart phone. The next evolution of online banking is a bank built specifically for smart phones. This is where Neobanks and Xinja come in to play.

Australia is in catch up mode with Europe and North America. The regulators have just allowed a new type of banking license to help businesses like Xinja get started on the journey to becoming fully fledged banks. This is the first step. If we look overseas you get a better idea as to how the model can develop. The market ends up with four or five digital banks designed entirely for mobile.

But a digital bank is not a Neobank. Xinja and other Neobanks (Monzo being a great example) aim to revolutionise the banking model. NeoBanks are not only changing how the service is delivered but fundamentally changing the products and services a bank offers. Sure, a Neobank might still deliver a home loan through your mobile phone but maybe Neobanks come up with alternative ways of sourcing the funding; Peer to peer? Arbitraging across jurisdiction?

Neobanks are designed for the smart phone and can deliver products, services and features a normal bank can’t. I am a big admirer of Monzo Bank and we are very fortunate to have a co-founder of Monzo on the Xinja board. When we talk about digital banking he describes the journey as being one per percent complete. I agree. We are just at the beginning of the change.

Xinja 10 golden rules

 

How did Xinja begin?

Eric Wilson: I’ve spent over half my career in banking. Most recently I was the chief executive for a subsidiary of a big four bank. My father in law was an old school banker. He grew up in the country and was a bank manager for towns out in the bush. In his days, bankers were respected members of the community. They helped people manage their money, helped them get ahead. They did good and didn’t lend too much money.

After years of working in the modern banking industry I recognised the banks have little connection to customers and the community. And it didn’t sit well with me. Ultimately, I was lending my strengths and expertise to something I didn’t believe in. My gut was telling me there had to be a better way.

I kept thinking of my father in law and what it used mean to be a banker, very high levels of personal service and humanity in banking. So, I set out to build a bank to deliver a similar level of care, compassion and consideration, but in today’s world.

A Neobank has no branches. The shop front is a customer’s mobile phone. And with technology we can hyper personalise the service. A neobank can help people manage finances better by giving them nudges and reminders on spending. Customers have access to loads of data to help them change their behaviours around money. A Neobank provides tools to make banking fast and hassle free. Why does banking have to be miserable and grey? Why can’t it be enjoyable, fun and ultimately work for the customer?

“This is what I love about true Neobanks. Turning the banking model, a full 360 degrees, back to when banks were for the community by the community. Entire communities, towns and cities were built with the help of a bank.”

True Neobanks are changing the model by putting customers right at the heart of everything they do. Xinja has a win-win philosophy. Every decision we make must be good for us and it must be good for our customers. At Xinja, literally every decision we make we put the customer at the heart of it. When we design a product, we don’t just come up with a product and launch it. We have real customers coming into the office, sitting with the team giving their feedback and developing product ideas.

The process of allowing customers to design the products they want, the bank they want and have ownership through crowdfunding is wonderful. It’s so exciting to build a bank with your customers and for your customers. Let me give you an example. The Xinja prepay travelcard we recently launched, it glows in the dark! When the marketing team first mentioned the concept, I thought it was a gimmick.

However, the card was designed based on feedback we got from our female customers. When they out at night they take a clutch bag. The problem being in the dark they can’t see which card which is. By making our card glow, they can see it. Now as a banker sat in an office not talking to people, I would never have known. But because we put our customers right in the heart of every design process, it means we can do these cool things.

 

Xinja App


 

Xinja was the first Australian business to raise money through Equity Crowdfunding. How was the experience?

Eric Wilson: Mind-blowing is the honest answer. The actual mechanics of getting ready for it were rigorous. I’m reasonably comfortable working with regulators, it is a key part of a banks work. The data you provide must be correct and complete. We found ASIC very helpful and great partners through the process. I can’t speak highly enough of ASIC as a regulator. They were rigorous and thorough but very fair.

What really surprised me with the funding round is the appetite from your everyday Australian for a new bank. Our initial goal was to raise $500,000 and hopefully attract a couple of new investors who could become customers as well. The target was hit in four hours. Then passed $1million after three days and finished at $2.7 million dollars, which is a material amount of money in a $15million dollar series B raise. We will be going through another crowd funding raise in early 2019.

Register for Xinjas Crowd Fund Raise

There is no better endorsement than having customers as investors.

They want to be involved and are wonderful advocates for Xinja. Our customers are willingly promoting Xinja to work colleagues, friends, family. It’s so satisfying to work with customers and shareholders in this way.

A Neobank is built by its customers for its customers. It’s for profit of course but it’s also for purpose. Treating customers as a profit center is not how Neobanks work. We absolutely want to make money and be profitable. But the only way Xinja can be successful is by putting our customers at the center of every decision.

Australia, for too long has had too many big, oligopoly banks. The alternative has been smaller financial institutions which don’t have the resources to react to customer needs. I genuinely hope Australia can have several Neobanks not competing against each other but competing against the big banks.

What we have seen in the UK is the digital banks and Neobanks don’t compete against each other for customers. Customers will usually leave an established bank, CBA, NAB, ANZ, Westpac or whoever to move to a NeoBank. In the UK, once there were two or three Neobanks established in the market customers began moving in volume. (Monzo went from 0 – 500,000 customers in the 12 months since they were awarded a banking license) I am sure we will see a similar pattern once Australians get familiar with the concept of a Neobank.

 

Xinja Office

 

Consumer trust in banks is at an all-time low. The royal commission revealed unethical behaviours by banks and executives. How is Xinja building trust with customers and shareholders?

Eric Wilson: This is a question I ask myself every day. First, I feel a massive personal and moral obligation to our shareholders. Many are mum and dad style investors who have placed a great deal of trust in me and the team at Xinja. I started Xinja because I want to build a highly ethical bank. But me making personal promises isn’t enough.

We invested a lot of money making sure Xinja has the right risk and compliance teams and frameworks in place. It is critically important, but it still isn’t enough. Just look at the banks and financial institutions currently in court with the royal commission. They have spent millions on risk and compliance and employ thousands of people in risk and it still hasn’t worked. Risk management is an essential element to building trust but it’s not enough.

In my opinion it comes down to leadership.

The BEAR regulations, whilst a bit scary being a senior executive at a bank, are important because they bring accountability back to the directors and senior executives. Every person Xinja hires meets me at the final interview. I make our stance on compliance very clear to potential employees and our staff. My philosophy is fair and very clear. If you make a mistake by accident and you stuff something up on compliance let us know straight away and we’ll fix it. You won’t be in trouble we can get it sorted. But if you try and do something dishonest in this business you will be out of the door and reported to the police faster than you can breathe.’

This message has to be made clear from the offset. You have to make sure there is never any ambiguity.

Everyone at Xinja is there to build an ethical bank. When you walk into an environment where people expect ethical behaviour it breeds ethical behaviour.  And don’t reward people in a way that encourages them to behave badly.

 

Shareholders and investors expect returns. How are you managing their expectations while building a bank for customers?

Eric Wilson: In some ways we’ve been very fortunate in the timing of Xinja’s launch. The royal commission will leave a scar on the financial services industry in Australia for many years to come. But at the end of the day you just set expectations. We make it clear to our investors and our customers Xinja will make less money per customer than the big four banks. If we’re going to look after our customers and we’re going to treat them fairly, then naturally we will make less. When customers get something of value we’ll charge them for it.

Xinja aims to deliver massive amounts of value and a hyper personalised service using technology. The model is closer to a tech business than a bank. Rather than charging 10 people $10 you build something scalable where you charge 100 people $1.

 

Xinja

 

How have you attracted top talent to the business?

Eric Wilson: It’s been surprisingly easy. There are currently 50 people in the business, all top talent who could easily get a better paying job elsewhere. Xinja presents a compelling career opportunity for outstanding banking professionals who have spent a career working in traditional institutions. As a native Englishman, we have an almost Churchillian rallying call to the people we think can play a significant role at Xinja

‘Now is the time you need to step out, make a difference and actually do something for Australia. Help build a bank that looks after people and makes amends for what the banking industry has done.’

It is surprising how many bankers have a big heart and want to do the right thing. I can’t think of anyone who has turned down an offer we have made. Most hires have approached us direct or responded to a post on LinkedIn. We usually get hundreds of people applying for roles.

People really want to work for Xinja. I feel deeply honored people entrust their careers to us. But, Xinja is doing something incredibly exciting. It is a fun place to work with no organisational hierarchy. Even our intern is quite comfortable telling me what I should improve. Xinja offers an unlimited leave policy, employees can take as much time as they need to re-energise and be a success in the business. There is no dress policy. If you’re going to trust your staff to deal with people’s money, then you don’t need to tell them how much leave they can take and what they should wear to work.

We spend a lot of time with individuals in the recruitment process before hiring. It is essential we get to know the person we are hiring. The Xinja fit is someone who really cares about doing the right thing and is committed to creating an incredible customer experience. A Xinja person is not the type of person who would take 5 months off just to take advantage of an unrestricted leave policy. My challenge is getting staff to take holidays and time out. Xinja is not a job for our people. Sure, they receive a salary but many of our staff are earning a lot less than they could earn in the market. They’re at Xinja because they want to do the right thing. We have a cause and a purpose.

Check out Our latest Fintech jobs

Australian FinTech partners with Tier One People

As the demand for top Fintech talent increases in, we are delighted to announce our official partnership with Australian Fintech.

When speaking to FinTech founders and CEO’s, recruiting the best people continues to be a major challenge. In 2017 Tier One People began collaborating with Australian FinTech to help the FinTech community find high quality and relevant candidates.

We see our long-term partnership as a big step towards tackling the talent shortage facing Australian FinTech companies.

Addressing FinTechs talent shortage

Tier One People are the experts at recruiting top FinTech talent across C-Suite, Sales, Tech, Finance, Risk and Operations. And since launching in 2016, we have fast become the recruitment partner of choice for some of Australia’s fastest growing companies.

The Tier One People service model is tailor made for the FinTech industry; with a focus on speed to hire, quality candidates, long term partnerships and flexible pricing that caters for start-up budgets.

The team at Tier One People recognise that FinTech’s require entrepreneurial, results-driven specialists. People who can turn start-ups into enterprises. And we have developed  unique approach to recruitment that helps clients assess which candidates can achieve the required results.

Australian FinTech and Tier One People plan to utilise this new partnership to provide FinTech’s with a ‘one stop shop’ for hiring top talent.

Australian FinTech CEO and Co-Founder Cameron Dart said.

‘The partnership between Australian FinTech Jobs and Tier One People gives our clients another option, should their own efforts to hire prove unsuccessful. This can sometimes be the case for specialist roles. So, it made sense to partner with a specialist FinTech recruiter. Tier One People were one of the platforms first clients. And as our relationship has developed it’s clear we share similar values around integrity, building long term relationships and making a positive contribution to the Australian FinTech community. And we are both totally committed to helping our clients hire the best FinTech talent’.

Tier One People CEO, Dexter Cousins added.

‘Together, with Australian FinTech Jobs, we believe we can help FinTech’s overcome their hiring challenges. When the team at Australian FinTech launched the jobs platform in August 2017, Tier One People were one of the first to advertise.’

‘We continue to be impressed by the quality of candidates the platform attracts. Some of our clients advertise on the platform themselves but when they can’t hire direct they come to us. Finding and then hiring specialist talent is full-time work and most FinTech’s struggle to dedicate the required resources. When a hiring process stalls it can hold back business growth.’

To find out how Tier One People can help your business contact [email protected]

Together, we can build the companies of the future.

An alternative view of disruption

The world is going crazy. Fintech, Insurtech, Regtech, Bitcoin, Blockchain, Crypto, AI, Machine Learning, flying taxis, colonising Mars. We can’t deny there is disruption in the world. But what is disruption?

Is it the naughty school kid, desperate for attention, spoiling the class for everyone else, winning a few friends and a few laughs, but ultimately, everyone ends up losing out, all so that, for a fleeting moment someone gets recognised?

When we observe the behaviour of some ‘disruptors’ and how they are approaching business, one could be forgiven for making a similar comparison. There is a lot of  boasting, shouting and FIGJAM (F#ck I’m Good, Just Ask Me). Company valuations at a multiple of 300 are disruptive too, but not sustainable or even remotely viable. Now we have ICO’s generating $millions based on a whitepaper.

If you listen to the experts, the banks are doomed and extinction is just around the corner for every corporation on the planet.

 

Corporate Dinosaurs and the story of evolution.

Anyone refusing to accept disruption in today’s business world is often referred to as a dinosaur. But what if they are not a dinosaur? What if they are a crocodile? What if those rejecting disruption have it right, while the rest of us are losing business in the dash and panic to change and adapt?

You already know the story about dinosaurs: at the end of the Cretaceous period, 65 million years ago, a meteor struck the Yucatan peninsula in Mexico, triggering extreme changes in the global climate that resulted in the K/T Extinction. Within a not so short period of time (500,000 years to be precise) every last dinosaur, pterosaur and marine reptile had disappeared off the face of the earth, but crocodiles, oddly enough, survived and remain relatively unchanged in over 200 million years. I was keen to understand why and how. Nature can often present lessons we can apply in life and in business.

 

I won’t bore you with my research but this one theory really resonated.

Whereas dinosaurs came in all shapes and sizes, crocodiles have stuck with pretty much the same body plan for the last 200 million years.

Perhaps the stubby legs and low-slung posture of crocodiles allowed them to literally “keep their heads down” during the K/T upheaval and avoid the fate of their dinosaur pals.

 

Are we too quick to write off businesses as Dinosaurs when they may be Crocodiles?

You are most likely familiar with the story of Kodak, and how the executive team, by not embracing change, almost led the company to bankruptcy in 2012.

The last decade has witnessed the “meteoric” rise and then fall of companies such as Blackberry, Nokia and Yahoo. Blackberry once had 50% of the smartphone market and today has less than 1%. In 2007, Nokia had over 50% share of the mobile handset market. By 2010 it was less than 5% and in 2013 Nokia was acquired by Microsoft in a $7bn deal.

 

Wiped out overnight or slowly evolving?

Nokia and Blackberry were seemingly wiped out primarily because of the iPhone and Samsung Galaxy, and it didn’t take long. There are many theories as to why Nokia and Blackberry lost so much ground. The consensus is that executives’ failed to act until it was too late. These were both solid companies and ironically, were successful because they were the innovators of their time. Very quickly their products became obsolete or did they?

Many enterprises are now concerned about the impacts of disruption. The fear is that entire industries will be wiped out overnight. The term Uberisation has been coined to describe industry disruption. Uber has grown from startup to a $70bn global corporation in just seven years. But even Uber is potentially facing its demise. This ‘disruptive’ business model is currently running at a $2.5bn annual loss, hardly the blueprint for business success.

 

The Blackberry – It is making a comeback.

There are lessons we can apply to our careers. The reality is that change will always be constant, evolution is constant. And extinction is just around the corner (well 500,000 years away) for any executive who does not consistently adapt.

The most successful businesses today take existing ideas, technologies, and business models, then cross-pollinate. In this process, entire new industries are forming. To execute on such ideas takes vision and a diverse skill-set. Being a generalist is a massive advantage for today’s executive.

 

How executives can become crocodiles, not dinosaurs.

If we look closely at Kodak and Blackberry we see businesses that have ‘put their heads down’ and are re-emerging.

Kodak is still alive and targeting the imaging business.

Blackberry posted revenues of $2.1bn in 2016 by returning to its roots and focusing on security (one of the main reasons why the phone remained popular with corporations). With Cyber security a major threat, will we see the Blackberry thrive in a VUCA world?

Disruption is a word that many executives have become conditioned to fear. And it has caused many companies to chase the latest, brightest and shiniest things. Perhaps, like the crocodiles, leaders would be better served ‘putting their head down’?

The stories of Kodak and Blackberry give me the courage to tackle, head-on, the unprecedented changes in today’s world. My mantra from now on, be a crocodile, not a dinosaur.

 

Executive FinTech Jobs

Executive FinTech jobs in the the pipeline for Q2

It has been a busy couple of weeks networking with VC partners, private equity managers and founders. And there appears to be an increase in executive Fintech jobs across the board.

The companies whom appear to have real momentum sit across artificial intelligence, payments technology, insurtech and regtech. The FinTech space is going strong, but the highest growth is coming from less mature segments.

At this stage, we are mainly receiving Sydney based enquiries. Melbourne and Asian based opportunities may come live towards the end of Q2.

The discussions on talent have all been very similar with a clear need across three areas.

HR – TECH – FINANCE

HR Consultants

We expect at least 3 clients in scale up mode will require the services of senior HR specialists:

  • Org redesign, talent benchmarking and workforce planning.
  • HR health checks.
  • Performance frameworks, L&D and recruitment strategies.
  • Culture, values and executive coaching.
  • The assignments could be anything from a few weeks to long term, part time gigs.

 

Chief Technology Officer

Our client is a late stage startup in the payments space gaining momentum. About to secure funding and recently entered into a partnership with a major distribution partner:

  • Build and lead a top development team.
  • Drive product development strategy.
  • Support the CEO in growing the business.
  • Skin in the game before series B funding.
  • The role would best suit a software engineer/developer who is entrepreneurial.

 

Chief Financial Officer

A VC client is on the lookout for CFOs to support two portfolio businesses in scale up mode. Both businesses operate in the data and artificial intelligence space.

  • Build an enterprise class finance function.
  • Support the CEO with strategy.
  • Ensure financial integrity.
  • Raise capital.
  • Must have previous running an IPO – it is a deal breaker.
  • The role would best suit a diverse CFO with startup and corporate experience.

 

Check out Our latest Fintech jobs

Artificial Intelligence – Is your job at risk?

Artificial Intelligence  and machine learning have advanced to a point where almost everyone in the Insurance industry is asking – ‘Is my job at risk?’

The answer? Nobody knows for sure. However, based on our extensive research and the daily discussions with insurance industry experts, expect to see the beginning of changes in 2018.

The impacts of Artificial Intelligence – Scaremongering or fact?

Many of the articles published in the media are highly exaggerated and designed to cause panic. However, AI and machine learning technology has reached a point where most traditional, task-oriented jobs are in the process of being replaced. Industries including Banking and Insurance are undergoing seismic shifts that demand new skills and a new approach to the workforce.

We recently spoke with Insurance leaders across the globe to get their views on Artificial Intelligence and the role it will play on the industry.

Here is what they had to say.

 


Mitchell Doust – Global Head of Business Development at Trov Inc.

Insurance on demandThere are huge implications for machine learning and AI that will eventuate in the next couple of years. Without a doubt, they will have a big impact on how insurers run their business.

Insurance is a data business and always has been. What’s changing is the breadth and type of data that is becoming available to insurance companies.

Insurance companies have a great capacity to analyse data and crunch numbers. Risk and pricing models and the associated skill sets are becoming outdated.

Let’s consider how an insurance company approaches underwriting and pricing. They collect a huge, historical data set and then analyse the data to create a product. Companies like Trov are very different. Using AI, we collect real-time information on how customers interact with the product. We can pull in data from multiple different sources.

So, the question we ask ourselves is ‘How can we use dynamic and real-time data to deliver better products and pricing.’

Do large Insurers have enough capability in this area? Many Insurers have closely held biases towards the historical data they collect. Sometimes they struggle to wrap their head around how they should price products for example.

The technology available will change the nature of traditional roles in claims, underwriting and actuarial. But I don’t think Artificial Intelligence will replace these roles. It is more likely the roles will continue to morph and cross pollinate.

 


Craig Ford – CEO SCOR Global Life Asia Pacific

Rather than replace people, we think we can support our clients by experimenting in areas like Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning.

As an example, we are helping clients with text mining on claims to better analyse their data using robotics.  This gives our clients greater insight into their claims experience and history which in turn drives better focused propositions.

In Korea, we are working with an AI partner and a specialist hospital to develop a data base which can be used to develop future products covering important conditions not currently covered.

In the US we have developed an underwriting algorithm based on the use of multiple data sources replacing traditional underwriting methods.  All have been developed in conjunction with and in support of our insurer clients.  The industry really is leading the charge and demonstrating that it is determined to stay relevant – and doing a good job at it too. Our people are a huge part of the success, technology is just helping us do a better job, faster.

 


Steven Raynor – Chief Operating Officer at QBE Insurance

Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning is having an impact in our business; however, I see technology helping our people to do their job rather than replacing them.  I don’t see the current disruption trend to be any different than what we saw 25 years ago when organisations began to digitise processes and increase the use of computers in the workplace.

We are investing in the transformation of our claims service, including the development of a new claims team in Australia, to improve the customer experience. We recognise that certain types of claims, such as householder claims, require a high level of personal contact, specialist knowledge and a rapid resolution for our customers.

The introduction of Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning will speed up the claims process even further and we are in the process of piloting innovative technology across our business.

As an example, we have recently partnered with Risk Genius, an Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning tool that allows the user to examine policy wordings. We have thousands of policy wordings in QBE, and without a tool like this it would be a very manual task to compare two or more policy wordings

The Risk Genius tool enables the user to instantly find the differences, which helps us create contemporary policies and release new products to market much faster. This is an example of people working with machines rather than machines replacing people.

We are also pioneering Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning in our business to transform our capacity to assess bodily injury claims.  We have partnered with an organisation to give our claims managers access to data to better manage the claim.  This pioneering technology is something we have been using in the US, so we are excited to introduce this new way of enhancing the customer experience.

 


 

Finally, the views of an Ex- McKinsey Consultant who asked not to be named due to client confidentiality.

Artificial Intelligence is already replacing people in many insurers. I expect to see two waves of change.

The first wave of change will happen (and is happening) in contact centres. There is a rapid rate of adoption with chatbots. Go on any website of any tech company, and a chat bot will serve you. Most Insurers are in the process of adopting the technology.

 

The second wave will impact around 50% of jobs and professions.

Accounting, claims and underwriting, financial analysts, risk analysts, low-level sales, operations. This is just a sample of the roles we can expect to see impacted by AI.

Any low value, transactional role is at threat. As an example, if you are assessing low-level claims or underwriting low value, generic policies then expect to be replaced by Artificial Intelligence.

 


Whose job is safe from Artificial Intelligence?

As a recruitment business, Tier One People are perfectly positioned to assess the job trends. It appears, for the moment, AI is not leading to large scale redundancies.

If you are a specialist underwriter or actuary, then your job is safe for the next few years. But the technology is advancing at a rapid rate, even these roles could be performed by AI in the future.

The roles that will be safe are those reliant on interpersonal skills and human interaction, high-level claims, sales and relationship managers and executive or senior management roles.

 

It is not all bad news – jobs are being created by insurers.

There is huge demand for Regulatory and Compliance specialists, Software Developers and Engineers, Data Scientists, Machine Learning Specialists, Business Intelligence, Community Managers for social media, Health and Wellness experts.

At a senior level we are a seeing newly created executive roles such as Chief Customer Officer, Chief Innovation Officer, Head of Ventures, Chief Strategy Officer.

InsurTech thought leader, Matteo Carbone recently published a book titled ‘All the insurance players will be Insurtechs

The hiring trends Tier One People observe within our Insurance clients suggest Matteo is 100% on the money in his assessment.

So, rather than asking ‘Will AI replace my job?’ perhaps we should ask ourselves ‘What role can I play in an Insurtech?’

 

Sydney Fintech Jobs
Sydney Fintech jobs update

Sydney Fintech Jobs

At Tier One People, we get to work with some amazing startups in Fintech and Insuretech. January has got off to a flier, so here is the first Tier One People Sydney FinTech jobs update of 2018.

There is an air of optimism that Fintechs will be a success. But the two challenges facing every FinTech and InsurTech? Funding and hiring great people.

The funding issue may no longer be an issue. Last week saw Australia’s first ever crowdfunding equity raise. The raising for Xinja (Australia’s first NeoBank) was carried out by Equitise. AUS$500,000 was raised in one day and everyday Australians (like me) have been given the opportunity to be an early stage investor in what promises to be a super exciting venture.

Congratulations to Eric Wilson and Van Le of Xinja and Chris Gilbert of Equitise.

Where are all the talented people?

Last month I had meetings with CEOs, CROs, CMOs, CTOs, CFOs and COOs. Each of them described similar people challenges – namely, hiring people who can get results in a VUCA environment with limited resources. Interestingly only CTOs mentioned technical skills as their biggest problem (even then they can outsource). As one CEO put it, ‘I need people who are prepared to work seven days and can get sh!t done.’

It is clear that the education system and corporate structures are failing to prepare people for the new demands of the startup/high growth business model. If you are serious about a career in Fintech, then you need to master the art of ‘getting sh!t done’. Despite what you read in the press, startups are not all about free yoga, beanbags and as much alcohol as you can drink.

Thinking about a move to Fintech? Tier One People are running a free event in February for those looking to make the switch. Contact [email protected] for details.

In-demand talent of 2018

Finance

There has been a push recently to hire Financial Controllers and CFO’s within the Fintech space. With companies growing to enterprise level in record time (Uber started in 2009 and is now valued at $70bn), startups are recognising the need to invest in enterprise-ready infrastructure and finance functions.

Several of the mandates I have received in the past few months have been with companies less than two years old.

Risk

A big year for risk in 2018. Valuations Actuaries, Cyber Security and Regulatory Compliance people in hot demand.

Tech

No change here.

Full stack developers – Yaaaawwn.

Machine learning, Data Science and Analytics still in huge demand.

Blockchain – Expect to see a raft of specialist recruiters in Blockchain.

C Suite

The interim C Suite market is going strong. Have you ever considered utilising CXO services on a ‘pay as you go’ plan for instance?

If you are looking to grow your Fintech and need specific expertise, for events such as an IPO, acquisition or rapid growth, hiring the person you need is cost prohibitive. Tier One People connect Gig Execs to our Fintech and Insurtech clients. A Gig Exec is a highly experienced executive with specialist experience for specific business events. Readily available for short-term assignments, this is a highly cost-effective solution for FinTech founders requiring executive level support.

Sales

It turns out that making revenue from SaaS and platform solutions is rather difficult, especially if you are relying solely on PR and a digital sales strategy. Tier One People are seeing an increase in demand for Sales Directors and Business Development Managers.

Interestingly the ideal candidate is someone with broad experience in product, distribution and sales. Relationship building and strategic selling are an absolute must. Certainly no used car salesman! It seems the mantra ‘People buy people’ is truer than ever.

 

Finding great FinTech people is hard

A great initiative by Cameron Dart and Australian FinTech Jobs, a specialist jobs board for Fintech positions.  We have used the platform for several positions and the quality and relevance of candidates gets high ratings from Tier One People.

We always say to our clients hire yourself if you can and when you can’t come to us. 

Australian FinTech Jobs is generating better results for Tier One People than SEEK (and is a lot cheaper too.) If you are planning to hire direct, I recommend giving the platform a go.

Home

 

 

How to attract the best talent to FinTech.

The Fintech Founders Guide to Hiring: 001 How to attract the best talent to FinTech.

 

Without a doubt, the most rewarding aspect of being a recruiter is working with the best talent. Seeing the positive impact a great hire can have in a business is a privilege. And I have been fortunate to play a small part in the success of some amazing companies (some of whom are now multi-billion-dollar businesses).

Founders of FinTechs will know more than most, the damage caused by making the wrong hire. Especially when a business is in the earlier stages of growth.

 

Finding great people can be easy – hiring them is not.

 

If you are a growing FinTech, finding the time to recruit yourself is tough and throwing your capital at recruitment companies should be a last resort.  Technology, social platforms and a 24/7 connected society has made finding candidates a lot easier. The challenge lies in engaging, assessing and finally hiring the right people.

In this three-part series, I will share two decades of global head-hunting experience. Revealing the strategies Tier One People use to attract, find and hire the best talent for FinTechs.

Part 001 Attracting the best talent to your Fintech.

 

What is the biggest obstacle preventing you from hiring the right people?

Recruiters, job boards, a lack of talent?

All of the above can be contributing factors. But the number one issue leading to a failed hire is this.

The hiring strategy, or lack thereof.

Hiring becomes much simpler and faster when you have a clearly defined hiring strategy.

In most instances, FinTech founders engage Tier One People after a failed attempt hiring themselves. When we take a brief, the client’s job description reads more like a wish list. The client has spent six months looking for a Unicorn with blue eyes. The longer the search goes on, the more pressure the client feels, leading to poor hiring decisions.

Developing a hiring strategy may sound too ‘hard basket’ but it is a lot simpler than you may think. You can even apply design thinking principles to your hiring strategy by asking a few very simple questions.

What business problem does this hire solve?

What does the right person look like?

Where can I find them?

What compelling reason can I give the right person to join our business?

None of these questions are answered by a conventional job description.

 

Think of potential hires as customers.

 

It is very likely you have spent a lot of time, energy and money creating a company brand and customer experience to attract the right customers. How much time and energy does your business spend creating a brand and candidate experience that attracts and retains the right employees?

Why would a top performer be interested in working with your FinTech?

What is unique about you and the business you are creating?

Why choose you over another business.

What is your unique value proposition?

What does it mean to be a part of your organisation?

A candidate experience strategy is best developed at the very early stages of growing the business. Unfortunately, most founders leave any form of recruitment process until the business hits the high-growth stage. Hiring becomes problematic, multiple recruiters are engaged, cost per acquisition goes sky high and cultural issues start to appear.

 

Do not hire on culture fit.

 

This advice goes against everything we are taught, even by the legend Peter Thiel himself. But here is my question ‘What is culture?’

The culture of an organisation is not static, it evolves and changes with the business. Culture is a living, breathing, growing animal. At the early stage of business, culture is like a baby, yet to develop an identity. It is almost impossible to identify culture fit; however, it is possible to determine if a new hire will add to or enhance your culture.

 

If you can’t hire on culture fit, what should you hire on?

 

‘The culture of any organisation is determined by the worst behaviour the CEO is prepared to tolerate, in themselves and others.’

If you are the CEO/founder, then the culture will ultimately be determined by your values and behaviours.

Of equal importance are the behaviours you will NOT tolerate. Establishing clear boundaries and guidelines will help when it comes to making tough decisions and assessing cultural fit.

Listing your values is much easier than coming up with a corporate bullsh#t culture statement. My kid’s school has cleverly distilled their values and expected behaviours into the moto ‘wisdom and courage’.

You need plenty of both working in a startup!

 

Get absolute clarity on the type of person you need to hire.

 

Most hiring tends to be a knee-jerk reaction to an event or workload. With tight deadlines and a business to run, FinTech leaders have little time to think about the type of person you need to hire.

Tier One People apply a design thinking approach to hiring. That is, we look for the business problem behind the hire. Once we are clear on the EXACT problem we are trying to solve, we can then find the right person. This approach has reduced our average time to hire for leadership positions to four weeks NOT four months.

Once you have identified the business problem a new hire needs to solve, start building a profile of the ideal fit for the role.

 

What qualities, behaviours and values will they demonstrate on a consistent basis?

What characteristics are required to be a success in the business?

What kind of achievements and results can they point to?

How does this profile compliment the dynamic of the current team?

How long will the person need to perform the role for?

 

Contemplate where your new hire will fit in the business 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 years from now. It may be that the profile you have identified will only fit your business for 6 or 12 months. That is perfectly reasonable, especially as your business goes through rapid growth.

 

 

Create opportunity descriptions – Not job descriptions.

 

Job descriptions list daily tasks and responsibilities. They were perfect in the last century when people worked static jobs in static environments. Today people live and work in a VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex, ambiguous) world. Jobs and businesses are anything but static. No two days are the same in a startup and employees job description change on an almost daily basis.

The person you need to hire is likely to be in a great role already and not thinking about a move. For them, the prospect of moving to a startup just to do the same job is not a compelling proposition. And the right person will not ask for a Job Description. They will do whatever it takes to get the job done (as long as it is legal and ethical.)

Throwing equity at someone is rarely the solution.

Put your marketing hat on and create avatars of the people you want to hire. Outstanding people aren’t looking for another Job, they are looking for a compelling opportunity.

What stage of life are they at? Who are their friends? What is frustrating about their current job? What inspires them? Who do they aspire to be? What is important to them? Friends? Family? Adventure? Travel? Prestige? Alcohol? Table Tennis? What is their work ethic?

Having a detailed picture of your ideal hire will help you create an opportunity description that is compelling to the right person.

 

What does an opportunity description look like?

 

It is actually much simpler to create an opportunity description than it is to create a job description. Start off with a set of goals, targets and milestones to be achieved within the first 18 months. For example:

 

– Within the first six months implement a new billing system with full integration of sales systems and no bugs or errors.

– Within the first 12 months have hired and groomed a potential successor into your role, enabling your advancement into a managerial position.

– Within 18 months have contributed cost savings in the business of $100,000 by identifying outsourcing and automation opportunities.

 

Incentivise each milestone with bonus, equity or promotion to make the opportunity even more compelling. Every new hire will have absolute clarity on what is expected of them and you have a congruent performance management framework in place before the person has even started the job.

In part 002 we will cover headhunting and candidate attraction strategies.

 

Insurance to Insurtech
Insurance to Insurtech

Steve Raynor is Chief Operating Officer for QBE’s Australian and New Zealand operations, he played a leadership role in the establishment of QBE’s Group Shared Service Centre in the Philippines.  He is also playing a leadership role in QBE’s adoption of digital and data & analytics as the business transforms from Insurance to Insurtech.

 

Insurance to Insurtech – Embracing the Future of Insurance.

Founded in 1886, QBE is a business that has played a significant role in Australia’s Insurance industry. QBE is one of the top 20 insurers and reinsurers worldwide. With operations in 37 countries and 16,000 employees, QBE is a truly global business.

QBE has recently committed to a new strategy that places an even greater emphasis on customer experience. The appointment of Vivek Bhatia to the role of CEO (ANZ region) a clear sign of their intent.

But is it possible for a traditional insurer to stay true to its roots with the industry facing so much change?

 

Can you share more about QBE’s strategy?

It’s a clear and straightforward strategy. QBE is putting customers at the core of every decision we make. When you break insurance down to its origins, it is all about trust.

In its current form, the origins of insurance were established in the 17th century, in coffeehouses, which were the place to find underwriters for marine insurance. Edward Lloyd supplied his customers with shipping information gathered from the docks and other sources.

The term ‘underwriter’ is said to have derived from the practice of having each risk taker write their name under the total amount of risk that they were willing to accept, for a specified premium. In exchange for the premium, the policyholder trusted that the underwriter would honour the contract in the event of a claim.

In turn, the underwriter trusted that the policyholder would act in an ethical way. All those years ago, insurance was based on people, relationships and trust, and these key elements remain core aspects of our business in QBE today.

QBE is 100% committed to building greater trust and better relationships with our customers. As a predominantly intermediated insurer, we recognise that our customers include the consumer and intermediary and we are committed to building stronger relationships with both parties.

For intermediaries, this means supporting them with great products and easy to digest information, so they can delight their customers (the policyholder.) For the policyholder, we have the opportunity to really be there in their hour of need in the event of a claim. We want to ensure this process is as smooth and easy as possible for everyone. This requires us to have open communications between policyholders, intermediaries and QBE.

QBE is investing in the transformation of our claims service, including the development of a new claims team in Australia, to improve the customer experience. We recognise that certain types of claims, such as householder claims, require a high level of personal contact, specialist knowledge and a rapid resolution for our customers. The reestablishment of this team has been received positively by our customers.

 

The introduction of Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning will speed up the claims process even further and we are in the process of piloting innovative technology across our business.

 

The appointment of our first Chief Customer Officer in June 2017 and our continued investment in human centred design ensures the customer is woven into our leadership team meetings and is very much at the heart of our new strategy.

 

How is technology supporting QBE’s global strategy?

In 2011, QBE embarked on a global productivity strategy. Our aim was to drive efficiencies across the group whilst enabling scalable growth. At the core of the strategy was a move to a global shared service centre in the Philippines. Any transformation of this scale and nature presents challenges, but we realised significant benefits for all the hard work.

The move has driven huge efficiency gains and areas such as finance processes, data analytics and back office processing, where we have seen a significant improvement in service, quality and turnaround time.
The establishment of the service centre has enabled us to shift our culture and operate more as one global organisation.

At QBE, in recent years we have introduced tools like video conferencing, Yammer, SharePoint and Office 365 to really encourage collaboration and the exchange of ideas, which has helped us break through geographic boundaries in our business. We have a global HR team providing a global view of workforce planning and enhancing global mobility.

We are also promoting global mobility in our business and have an increasing number of examples of people who have worked in different parts of our organisation around the world. This allows us to harness that knowledge and expertise from one part of our business and deploy it anywhere in the world.

 

QBE Executives have been spending time in Silicon Valley, developing relationships and forging partnerships with emerging Insurtech players.

 

Will Insurtech result in the demise of traditional insurers like QBE?